08. Sep 2017

„Forms in Space…by Light (in Time)” at Tate Britain/GB was made from almost two kilometres of neon lighting.

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag
Photos: Dusty Sprengnagel/Alexander W.

It looks like someone has used light to paint a huge, abstract drawing in space, the impressive maze of complex lines and swirls rendered visible thanks to clever photographic techniques. In this case, the work was designed to work with the architecture of the spacious Duveen Sculpture Galleries in the Tate Britain in London/UK, and it is not what would have originally been described as a light painting or light drawing, which involved long exposure photographs being taken of moving hand-held light sources, but is indeed an installation made of light.

From March to mid-August, the work entitled “Forms in Space…by Light (in Time)” by artist Cerith Wyn Evans could be viewed in the almost 100 metre long Duveen Sculpture Galleries with their high, barrel-vaulted ceilings, which were opened to the public as the first galleries designed specifically for the exhibition of sculptures back in 1937. The light sculpture is divided into three sections and comprises almost two kilometres of neon lighting modules. The neon modules were purposefully designed to create variously shaped elements: straight sections, sweeping curves, circles or spiralling forms.

The starting point was a single ring of neon light, from which two further differently shaped discs branch out and develop their own presence. The view for the gallery visitor standing in the historic museum environment and looking up into the vaulted ceiling with its skylight was as magical as it was mesmerising.

A tangle of short, long, rounded, and straight narrow neon tubes that shaped multiple series of complex structures, some seemingly familiar, some totally abstract, or lost itself in an endless confusion of lines of light. For anyone focussing on the core part of the installation, it resembled a knotted mass of luminous wickerwork, which thanks to the clear forms in the sections that mark the beginning or the end of the sculpture lend the overall impression more structure and clarity. It is certainly a lot of work and effort to build a light artwork of this kind, besides that fact that – whether the artist had planned how to do so or not – the entire structure needed to be suspended from the ceiling as defined by the artist to align with the existing architecture.

Design: Cerith Wyn Evans

Planning: Dusty Sprengnagel, Lukas Galehr

Production and installation: Neonline Werbedesign


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