Opening today is a fantastic exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, titled Light Show. It presents works of 22 artists who created influential and groundbreaking pieces using artificial light as their medium. The works vary in approach, technologies and references, exploring different characteristics of light (colour spectrum, duration, change, projection etc). Some of the contemporary pieces in the show make use of latest technologies to create a rather immersive and sci-fi atmosphere.

Here are some photos from yesterday’s opening.

Chronologically the exhibition covers five decades, from the pioneers of the early 60s (Turrell, Wheeler, Flavin…), through the LED-light installations of Jenny Holzer and projections of Anthony McCall’s in the 70s, to today’s computer-programmed perceptual effects of Leo Villareal and moonlight emitting bulbs of Katie Paterson.

It’s really difficult to pick up some favorites, as all the works are quite stunning. Ivan Navarro’s infinity neon installation stay impressive, so do James Turrell’s light perception spaces and Carlos Cruz-Diez chromosaturations. Four pieces which we loved instantly were Anthony McCall’s You and I, Horizontal (2005), Olafur Eliasson’s Model for a Timeless Garden (2011), David Batchelor’s Magic Hour (2004/7) and Conrad Shawcross’ Slow Arc inside a Cube IV (2007).

McCall’s work is installed in a separate dark room and involves strong ‘solid-light’ projection from one source, casting light sufraces accross the room, through which you can walk and become part of the work (entering the surface takes some inner
persuasion ‘though). The projection also casts light shapes of line, ellipse and a travelling wave on the opposite wall.

Olafur Eliasson’s installation uses stroboscopic lamps flashing light on small water streams and creating the effect of frozen movement. Pretty intense: you won’t be able to stay in that room for longer than couple of seconds, but you’re not likely to forget it.

David Batchelor used bunch of discarded shop signs stacked on each other, facing you with their back full of cables and dirty metal plates and emitting soft multicolored lights towards the wall. The title of the work, Magic Hour, is a reference to the twilight sky above Las Vegas – the moment when the sun goes down and the lights come up. It works fabulously on your imagination.

Conrad Shawcross’ device casts constantly transforming geometrical shadows through the patterns of a large metal cube. The artists describes his work as a “metaphor for the discipline of science” and compares it to the process of mapping molecular structure of insulin by means of crystal radiography. Well, it does look sophisticated, as wel as quite hypnotizing.

Light Show is curated by Dr. Cliff Lauson and will be on display @ Hayward till 28 April 2013.

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