Light Night Volunteering – COP Creative Practitioner

From Light Night:

I was posted at Akeelah Bertram‘s installation piece that was exhibited inside the Art Gallery, entitled Vase: an installation of abstract colour and throbbing noise in an otherwise blank room, where participants were welcome to simply sit, and gradually give themselves up to the immersive qualities of the piece.  The title called to mind a mash of mostly forgotten (to me, you understand) theory on the concept of the vessel, particularly in theories of the significance of sculpture, and even more specifically in ceramics.  Watching the visitors to the Gallery enter the room, it was often disappointing to see so many unchanged expressions after a two-minute drop-in and skulk-around.  Yet, much more heartening were the slightly dazed, softer faces of those who resurfaced after having made the choice to take a space on the cold floor, get comfortable, and give themselves bodily to the Vase for more than a few moments.

The nature of Light Night, though, does lend a sense of urgency to each event/piece, so it was understandable that a number of the visitors that night didn’t stick around for very long.  Nevertheless, it was by no means an unpopular piece, and I felt the fact that so many people did stay served to exemplify the powerful hold a constructed, almost virtual, environment can wield on even a passing audience.  In her bio on DIScrit 89Plus, Bertram explains the purpose of her video installations:

‘to make digital video a physical experience. Not 4-D cinema – and most definitely not a hologram. The creation of an experience in which you feel the material of video, like you can the material of sculpture. Making video transcend the optical experience and turning it into a tactile one.’

Her work addresses something intrinsic to our society of escapism-addicts: in bringing this pulsing, digital video into and around the realm of the body, she gives us the opportunity to relinquish our grasp on the world outside this one room and away from the projection.  It seems crucial then, too, that this is not a solitary experience.  The rooms Bertram exhibits in are chosen for their capacity too, and so in a group of anything under 100 people (this was the number I was given when guarding the door at the Leeds Gallery anyway), we can have a collective experience of something we can imagine as akin to digital transcendence.

I thought it was quite an impressive piece, and seeing it just helped solidify the fact that I could benefit from having projections of some kind in my own creative response for COP.  I think the almost-intrusive quality afforded by projected video is too much opportunity to pass up.

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