Transformative interplay of light and sound
By Joana Simmons
As daylight saving comes to an end putting us in darkness earlier in the evening, Arts House presents an incredible program of light shows. Spectral is a one-week season with leading artists Robin Fox, Hanna Chetwin, Jannah Quill, Kusum Normoyle and Meagan Streader exploring the interplay between sound and light.
Exhibitions by Robin Fox and Meagan Streader culminate in special performances over two nights featuring works never seen before in Melbourne alongside new commissions. I had the opportunity of transforming my gloomy Saturday by moving through two of the free exhibitions.
Quadra by Robin Fox is an immersive, psychedelic experience of sound and light that makes the Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City look boring. Within the first 30 seconds inside a dark room, my jaw dropped and I felt joy well up inside me as lasers cast beams of rainbow light onto a truss of mirrors placed in different angles.
Over the next 11 minutes, the pattern of the lasers combined with brilliant sounds coming from a quadraphonic sound system which meant all my senses were completely brought to life. You hear the light with your ears, see the sound with your eyes, and feel everything in your body.
At times the bright lasers beamed in patterns that made the roof appear to close in on us. I wanted to touch the light that created a Matrix-like effect and made me feel as if I was inside a giant game of pick-up-sticks.
Fox has designed an incredibly well-timed and transformative work. Once it was finished, I sat quietly with my eyes closed to let the magic sink in.
Just down the hallway was artist Meagan Streader’s light installation Echoes.
The installation is site-specific to the North Melbourne Town Hall and contrasts fluorescent lights with the heritage architecture of the building and soft lighting.
The piece dominates the empty space of a black box theatre: two large curved beams support a series of fluorescent rings, which are reflected in a pool of water on the floor like tentacles. The light here transforms the space and guides us as we navigate the room to view the installation. It’s refined and stark.
These exhibitions are tasters for what else is on in Spectral, a ticketed event featuring a curated line up of artists.
If you have space in your weekend to see what art can be created with light, go! If you enjoy it as much as I did, you’ll be sure to come out brighter.
Spectral: between light and sound runs at Arts House North Melbourne 11- 18 April. See here for tickets and additional information.
Photograph: Sam Whiteside