Light Show at Hayward Gallery


You and I, Horizontal, Anthony McCall
You and I, Horizontal, Anthony McCall

Lighshow at Hayward didn’t appeal at first, but I went along with other enthusiasts and was won over. I think I had preconceptsions of decorative and illustrative (may I be struck down by an Arc inside a Cube)- I am all too pre-occupied with the materiality of works, and assumed that work would be about the effects of the materials, rather than the mechanics of the sources. This was both proved and disproved:

Anthony McCall successfully overcame my prejudices with his installation in a dark space with some smoke effects, creating the illusion of a cone which took on more solidity the more I played with it and tried to mentally establish it was pure light. The wonder of the other audience members was fun and slightly self-consious- we all knew it was just light, yet even I found myself trying to walk round it rather than through it on leaving….. I think this was an intimate conjoring trick which wanted to be intimately interracted with. For me this was the most abstract and successful projection peice- others such as Ann Veronica Janssens ‘Rose’ which emplyed lights in a red space with smoke effects felt more laboured to me.

Slow Arc inside a Cube IV, Conrad Shawcross
Slow Arc inside a Cube IV, Conrad Shawcross

The illusion I had feared was square-on engaged with by Shawcross, who exploited the industrial light source and the manufactured precision of the cube to distort my spacial understanding of the space- it was hard to move around as the shadows played on all surfaces, constantly changing. It invited us to focus on the effects of the light source, of the industrial mechanics, and gave me a sense of forboding and uncertainty, as if the now and future could slip at any moment.

Chromosaturation, Carlos Cruz-Diez
Chromosaturation, Carlos Cruz-Diez

Chromosaturation flattened the colours available to my eye, as if we had stepped into a solid space of colour. Sharing the space with all sorts of people was unifying, and the contrasts were provided by white cubes which were facing 2 zones at once, marking the changes in the hues. I was not prepared to be so engaged by pure colour on a conceptual level: in some ways it was the lack of colours we were looking at. Fantastic.

Magic Hour, David Batchelor
Magic Hour, David Batchelor

The quiet conviction of Magi Hour was undeniable, and the more I looked at the work the more I liked it- the reclaimed light boxes, the mixed screens of different hues and opacities providing a wide halo of colours speak of metropolis. The intimacy of the workings made them seem less relevant, and the tangle of wires spoke to me about the assumed networks which enable the effects of modernisation which we take for granted. Thanks to Gin Dunscombe for this image.

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