Life and death under LED lights

I encountered two amazing LED-based art installations when travelling. Both artworks featuring twinkling LED lights in the darkness — one is set outdoor in the desert field of Uluru while the other one is indoor at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney.

  1. Field of Light-by Bruce Munro

Over 50,000 bulbs light up a massive block of land the size of a football field at the foot of Uluru. The colours and strength of light of the bulbs change automatically and gradually as the audience move around the field in the darkness, making the whole filed come to life in a quiet and calm way.

Being in the red centre of Australia is already a mind-blowing experience. The Field of Light exhibition is certainly a nice touch that adds another layer of fascination to the place.

“I saw in my mind a landscape of illuminated stems that, like the dormant seed in a dry desert, quietly wait until darkness falls, under a blazing blanket of southern stars, to bloom with gentle rhythms of light,” he (Munro) said. “Field of Light is a personal symbol for the good things in life.”
(http://www.thenibbler.com.au/article/field-of-light-graces-uluru/)

2.Mega Death by Tasuo Miyajima – MCA Australia

Mega Death (1999) features about 3000 white LED counter gadgets on a three-walled billboard. The counters count down from nine to one, on to darkness without indicating “zero” then return to nine and repeat themselves. They are programmed to be completely switched off every few minutes, leaving the viewers in complete darkness, then go back to counting at various speed again.

The changing faces of numbers or digits appear in different forms in almost every piece of artwork in Miyajima’s exhibition- Connect with Everything, and this piece is the most impressive work in terms of its scale and design. Almost like some kind of ritual, the blue illuminated room and its numerous glittering LED counter gadgets is a very power visual expression that challenges the audience’s perception of time and changes.

“It is about the Holocaust, but it has parallels with global tragedies. It holds the meaning of many of the human-caused tragedies of the 20th century: the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, terrorist attacks … any mass death or destruction or killing where a life is taken before [its natural term].”
(http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/japanese-artist-tatsuo-miyajimas-digital-genius-on-show-at-sydney-mca/news-story/09b11f9888762c46102f08ee97d58186)

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The use of LED lights in the darkness opens a gate for me to be fully immersed in these installation space. It’s interesting to see that both artists have chosen the same medium to express their concepts and ideas yet shape them into something quite differently, as one celebrates the greatness of lives, the other contemplates the meaning of death. While it is also undeniable that the two themes are closely interlocked with each other at all time and are simply showing the 2 different sides of the same story.

To remember, to forget, to heal

It’s been a while since the last time I watched a stage show in a small theatre…and I forgot what an intimate experience this can be. What made me feel this way are two Japanese theatre productions at Arts House Melbourne as part of the AsiaTOPA festival.

Both productions deal with the topic of 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, reflecting on the disaster’s impact on people’s living with a close glimpse to their inner minds. The simple settings on stage open up a new dimension where my attention is exclusively dedicated to the stage and the performance happening there.It hence becomes quite intimate — like witnessing a tragic process that interweaves the past and the future, the deceased and the lived and is something that is very delicate, fragile and easy to be overlooked if not contemplated carefully.

The first production: Time’s Journey Through a Room is about a man’s dialogue with the spirit of his deceased wife and his new girl friend, revealing his desperation for hope while also a sense of frustration of being worn out by the sadness.

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Source: http://artsreview.com.au/times-journey-through-a-room/

The second production: Kagerou – Study of Translating Performance is a performance involving simultaneous interpretation of a woman’s voice talking about her husband who died in the earthquake. Performed by one person with headphones on, the production also uses a projection of moving images in the background as the person does the oral interpretation. Her shadow projected on the background creates a special presence of a person among the images of objects and sceneries.

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Each of the two shows has a unique way of depicting the character’s mental reaction to their loss at the natural disaster, by gently letting the character’s voice being heard with a series of subtle and distinct expressions. They captured moments after a person is finally settling in the fact about death of the loved one and is trying to get on with life. Somehow, making sense of the unforgettable is actually helping the lived ones to forget, to move on and in this case, to heal as part of a national tragedy.