It is difficult to define the Lightwork series of Conrad Shawcross – sculpture, installation, perhaps even performance. His pieces are typically large machines that move and spin bright lights in a manner that is somehow at once mechanistic and human. The sculptures are built of elaborate machinery similar in appearance to factory robots. However, in a way Shawcross juxtaposes the utilitarian appearance of his machines with their art-making purpose.
He says, “I really like them as unfinished objects. The minute they turn, you are left in a much easier position of ‘ok, that’s about a spinning light bulb’. But before they operate, you have to be more aggressively thoughtful to try and work out what they are for.” (via)
Carlos Cruz Diez‘ choice medium in his installation Chromosaturation is simply color. While we’re accustomed to seeing many different colors constantly and simultaneously, Diez uses only three colors presented one at a time as a departure point: red, green, and blue. Diez saturates a room with one of these single primary colors of light. The color floods from room to room, interacting with other colors, creating entirely new hues. The light immerses the gallery space so thoroughly that the color almost takes on a physical aspect. In his statement, Diez says:
“The Chromosaturation can act as a trigger, activating in the viewer the notion of color as a material or physical situation, going into space without the aid of any form or even without any support, regardless of cultural beliefs.”
Spanish artist Javier Riera produces what he calls “light and geometry interventions” on landscapes. Using powerful light Riera projects geometric patterns on to natural vistas. The projections can appear to transform a treeline into a two dimensional plane. At other times the light seems to add strict geometric shapes to the wilderness. The light and patterns disrupt the perception of the view they cover. Riera’s transposing geometric patterns onto natural scenery partly alludes to language, matter, and the way the two interact.
Almost a year ago, David Abir installed a sculpture in the LA Mart’s basement that forever rattled my experience on Earth. And now, after some time has passed, he has constructed several more structures that have only gone on to further enhance the feeling I grasped onto when I initially saw them. Sadly, it’s pretty much impossible to photograph the pieces correctly, since part of their mystique is the low ambient light surrounding the room. And when the flash goes off on your camera, you’re basically voiding yourself the enjoyment of seeing the greatest magic trick performed correctly.
Light, shadow, and the human figure feature prominently in the recent works of photographer Dusdin Condren. Whether looking at an arm amputated by shadows or a woman posing Lee Miller-like in the striated light of a nearby window, there is a certain surreal, but serene viewing experience to be had with these photographs. The sometime use of black-and-white certainly increases this special effect.
British artist Anthony McCall (born 1946) has a cross-disciplinary practice in which film, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance overlap. McCall was a key figure in the avant-garde London Film-makers Co-operative in the 1970s and his earliest films are documents of outdoor performances that were notable for their minimal use of the elements, most notably fire. After moving to New York in 1973, McCall continued his fire performances and developed his ‘solid light’ film series, conceiving the now-legendary Line Describing a Cone (watch a video of a gallery-goer’s interaction with it), in 1973. These works are simple projections that strikingly emphasise the sculptural qualities of a beam of light. If you want to know more about the light magician, you can read an interview with Anthony by the writers at BOMB Magazine.