Light Fantastic – A Reflection

Art & Culture

Last week I was guided to 12 Hay Hill by a rather vague, but nevertheless enticing, press release regarding an artist that uses a digital-neurology system to read brainwaves and turns them into a light show. Sounds cool right? That's what I thought too. 

Arriving at the venue I was confronted by an explosion of colour from neon-light sculputures, lighting up facade of the building and inviting you in from the cold wet street. (Unfortunately you're going to have to go without knowing the artist's name, because there was no list of works & I'm a terrible journalist)

Hood up and complimentary champagne in hand (I don't think Mayfair's the place for me), I got the lift down into the basement to find out what all this brainwave art fuss was really about. Briefly distracted by whirling wooden structures and pulsating lights in shopping trolleys, I pushed my way through drunk Mayfairians and a set of heavy black curtains to find Lia Chavez stood motionless amongst clouds of smoke and a singular strobe flashing at irregular intervals. Trippy is the only real was to describe Tumult, as you stand disorientated in a dark smokey room with a silhoette of Lia appearing and disappearing out of the smokey gloom.

Unfortunately, on paper the piece sounds a lot more impressive than it looks in person – not that I'm putting Tumult down in any way, as from both a technological and performative aspect it's one hell of a feat. To put it as simply as I can, Lia meditates for 4 hours whilst standing up, whilst wearing a headset that reads her brainwaves. This new piece of technology, developed by rehabstudio, then converts this digital signal into pulses of a strobe light and the more intense the strobe flickers, the deeper a meditative state Lia is in. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like trying to meditate for 4 hours stood up with people talking and noise all around me; but Lia seems to pull it off without a care in the world.

As interesting as the piece was, I just wish there was a bit more done with it as it has so much potential to be something that, aesthetically, looks amazing. I know I'm no technological whizz, so anyone that knows better than me feel free to put me in my place, but I just feel like the piece needs more than one strobe. It's not quite immersive enough yet, and I feel that's what Tumult needs to be to keep the audience engaged.