II. White Night: Let There Be Sound and Light 0 Comments

II. White Night: <i> Let There Be Sound and Light </i>

Though some of the sound and light installation art at White Night proved to be less than its description in the program, there were many installations that delivered. Two of these were Photon: Interactive Laser Light Installation at St Paul’s Cathedral and Particle Picnic at the Forum Theatre.

I had spoken to a friend about Photon and she said she’d enjoyed it but the crowd had become too crushing to fully understand what was going on. I imagine this was the case for many of the smaller exhibitions in the early hours of the night. Luckily, I experienced it when the large crowds were distracted by The Cat Empire, when the group inside the cathedral was small and polite.

Photon was an interactive light installation featuring lasers, smoke and 3D tracking technology that moved as you approached it. The dormant state of the light was a spinning circle of green, blue and red. In the dim light the circle was illuminated in neon brightness, spinning smoothly until a body part came near it. Then it would alter, the line of light on the ground curving in on itself, convoluting into a multitude of shapes.

There was a sense of community, of inclusivity, in the quiet recess of the cathedral. Somehow everyone silently agreed to take a step back to experience the full circle spinning untouched between us. Then slowly, tentatively, we touched our hands and feet to the light to make it spike and dance and warp.

The tactile experience of light was one of wonder. I stood there for a long while, dragging my hands through the light, making it jump as though it were alive. And when I left I wanted to go back and touch the light again.

In contrast to this was the full-on experience of Particle Picnic at the Forum Theatre. There was a line all night, right up until 4am. As we entered I noticed the empty bottles of alcohol on every bannister, covering almost every surface. 3D glasses were scattered here and there, and I picked up a pair and wiped the grease off it.

My friend and I sat down near the back. There was a crowd up front dancing to the invisible DJ’s set. At least, I couldn’t see a DJ anywhere near the huge projection screen. It was an unseen or absent DJ, with no physical manifestation and only the music and 3D visuals to signify their presence. A DJ with no human entity, which didn’t stop the people at the front from dancing to the music. It was music created for a late-night crowd, a mix of techno and house with accompanying vocals, but, thankfully, nothing you’d find on the Top 40 list.

The geometric visuals pulsed in time with the music, each set of shapes reminiscent of the last, but none the same. My friend turned to me and said, ‘I feel like Homer in the 3D Simpsons episode.’ We sat for about 15 minutes and the music didn’t repeat, the sound futuristic and full of purposeful glitches. When we were satisfied we left, and I was glad we’d lined up to experience such a thing.

 

There was a time when Chloe Brien wanted to be a fairy and work magic. Having given up on that dream, she instead wants to work magic with words. Her preferred incantations are fiction and poetry. She has been published in Verge, Voiceworks and elsewhere.

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