|Author||L&L Communication Team|
|Category||Tales of lighting design|
I have memories. No, not memories: sensations. Sensations that come from a jumble of images, some clear, others a little hazy – though still revealing in their own way.
I can describe a place and a time in which I believe I had this experience, but I am unable to locate it either on the timeline of my life or in a specific geographic space. I therefore have some doubts concerning the events I am about to relate. Indeed, if I were not able to describe the actual sensations, both tactile and visual, as well as I am about to, I would say that it was all just a dream.
It must have been.
The reason is obvious: there is no trace of these visions in my external memory. After all, who goes anywhere these days without recording everything on their personal visors? And yet my brain cannot have created all this out of thin air, it must have generated the thoughts based on some input.
Many inputs, in fact, so many.
Here they are; I shall visualize them clearly and in an orderly fashion, so that I can share them with the global collective memory. There must be someone somewhere with an explanation for me: some names, a place, a reason why I experienced all this. There’s always someone who has an answer. And I have a distinct feeling that I need that answer.
I need to force myself to concentrate now, bear with me.
Where I am
It’s hot and muggy, the height of summer. Early afternoon, I think, because the sun is blinding me – there are no shadows and not a single cloud in the sky. The heat rises off the asphalt, and there’s a lot of asphalt. A city, wide-open spaces, imposing buildings. The images have blurred edges in the air, which is thick with humidity – I am in southern Europe.
I enter the hallway of a building and go down the stairs. I find myself on the upper basement level, where I feel some coolness at last. I walk along a corridor and enter a room. There is no one in it.
The vacant room is rectangular, with low ceilings. Everything is clean, tidy, uncluttered. There is no furniture, or rather there is very little, just a few steel trolleys. Steel, yes, painted white, and a cold light, coming from fluorescent tubes, which illuminate everything indiscriminately. I seem to have pictured a sterile place, like a hospital, an operating theatre. No, not that.
A place where everything is organized, catalogued, as if it were evidence of something. A laboratory? The behind-the-scenes spaces of a museum? A university department? Perhaps. However, there is something in the way the elements are organized that tells me that nothing has been left to chance, as if the space were intended for an audience, for visitors.
Exhibit / 1
I move towards a steel shelf, attracted by the orderliness with which I can see colourful items are displayed on it: minerals of different shapes, sizes and hues. The vivid, bright colours of the objects, together with the pink surface on which they sit, are enhanced by the light coming from above, from small lighting fixtures attached to the top of the structure.
Everything is in plain view: from the pared-back shelving to the electrical sockets and cables of the fixtures hanging down from above, nothing is hidden. No frills or embellishments. I notice that the tiny lamps are secured in an unusual way, with the fixing springs clearly visible. I ask myself who could have installed them like that, yet the style is perfectly suited to the context: it can't be accidental. I take a closer look at the coloured projector: it has a magnetic base that holds it to the steel structure.
I concentrate on the objects on display: the surface of the rocks has been worked in some way, their cold texture softened by a living, human touch. Stones, rocks, minerals – and yet something tells me they are communicating as if living matter.
Exhibit / 2
I shift my gaze from the steel structure to the wall next to it.
A painting. No, a photograph. A photograph that captures an artistic composition, I would say.
It has an air of ephemeralness, precariousness about it. It seems caught in that instant of loss of balance that precedes movement. As if the photograph had captured a moment that had already passed, suspending it forever. A sculpture created in the very act of photographing it? And then what? What could have happened to it? Only the photograph remains to render it eternal.
The objects photographed look different from the minerals I have just observed. I don't think they are natural elements: they are light and graceful, and vividly coloured, albeit worn down by time, or perhaps by the atmosphere.
If this is an art exhibition, it is a very remarkable one, I remember thinking.
The exhibitions I have in mind are set up in less brightly lit surroundings, and the individual works of art stand out from the shadows thanks to the contrast created by accent lighting. In this space, on the other hand, the uniform light connects everything on display, rather than isolating the individual exhibits, as if all the works speak the same language and the message is unambiguous. Within the uniformity of the ambient lighting, I notice gleams and shadows on the picture hanging on the wall, created from above and below by two tiny projectors: they seem to accentuate the sense of three-dimensionality of the photograph-sculpture.
Exhibit / 3
A steel trolley: this really does look like something out of an operating theatre. A projector with a pole that's also made of steel lights the two sculptures on it. Here, too, the cables and sockets are on view.
I examine the smaller one, a shark on two legs, a creature that looks like a cross between a fish and a dinosaur. I turn my attention to the larger one, an animal with three heads: cobras with the body of a horse. Mythological creatures, perhaps?
Both appear oxidized, once alive, revived … recovered. Yes. Recovered from some wreckage. There’s almost a tenderness to them – don’t laugh but, when I look at them, I can’t help feeling nostalgic for when I was a child and played with toy figures, and my mother would call me down for dinner. Something about them doesn't quite add up: they look ancient, like archaeological relics, and yet they remind me of my own not-too-distant past. I’m not old, after all: how can they speak to me?
Exhibit / 4
I move further into the room. Looking around the space, I am attracted by a recess, a sort of niche.
In it, a pedestal supports and displays three small rocks of different compositions. On each is set a sword – a sword in the stone – made of a delicate, transparent material that, it seems to me, could not possibly have even scratched such solid-looking stones. The contrast in the materials fascinates me.
I look up to see where the light that illuminates this contrast is coming from: a tiny projector, blending into the white of its surroundings, envelops the piece and its pedestal from above.
I tear my eyes away from the sculpture, turn around and take in the entire space one last time.
My attention is drawn to other works: their rocky texture gives way to an airy element resembling a bubble – it’s as if they emanate life itself. Then there is a hypnotic narrative voice that accompanies sequences of forceful images; finally, a bronze work meticulously laid out on a flat surface.
Then darkness envelops me.
That is everything I saw, touched, thought. I am exhausted by the effort of digging through my mind to extract these sensations one by one, but I am certain that, once entrusted to the global collective memory, they will be transformed into explanations and answers.
As much as the works seemed to me to be clues, documentary evidence, that someone had patiently collected, catalogued and exhibited, by the same token I felt that these were no cold sequences of artefacts and stones, but that there was something in them that was alive, sentient, human. They spoke to me of something close to me, but it was as if they themselves came from afar.
The findings of an archaeological dig? Yes, perhaps, but when did they date from, and in what time and place did they originate? Were they from a society contemporary to the cataloguers, or one past, vanished? Had I observed a time capsule, perhaps, a message for posterity, for me? Did I really travel back in time, or forwards?
I do not think I shall find an answer in the linearity of my temporal conception.
I have seen everything: past, present and future. Or did I dream it all?
Answers from the global collective memory
Exhibition: WHEN TIME DREAMS, curated by Mano Leyrado
Exhibition space: THE COMPANY STUDIOS
Address: Via California 7, Milan, Italy
EXHIBIT / 1: Hunter Longe, United States
EXHIBIT / 2: Griffini in Tamborini, Italy
EXHIBIT / 3: Joshua Goode, United States
EXHIBIT / 4: Nicolau Dos Santos, Portugal / Stephanie Blanchard, France
Anna Zachariades, Germany
Flavia Visconte, Argentina
Yunsun Kim, Korea
Julia Pereyra, Argentina