Deep in the Russian woods, light is being harnessed in a new way
The term ‘painting with light’ was originally used to refer to photography, but every now and then someone comes along who really challenges that assignation. Kimchi and Chips, a Seoul-based art and design studio founded by Elliot Woods (UK) and Mimi Son (South Korea) in 2009, are the latest, using a haze machine, mirrors and a low-resolution projector to create truly volumetric 3D projections, as opposed to 2D holograms (which we’re still sometimes wowed by).
The show is literally the result of smoke and mirrors, but Kimchi and Chips’ ingenious use of pre-existing technologies could well have concrete impact down the line. The calibrated beams, issued by a projector that allows for lots of distortion, provide gradually intensified areas of light when concentrated on the same place, creating the appearance of multifaceted objects.
The fact that the entire play of light occurs on a 45-degree angle allows it to hit the mirrors in a downward direction while bouncing back in a horizontal direction toward the audience. Eventually, over 100 of the beams converge in one place, creating the impression of a wispy, animated shape. The haze machine helps scatter the light at this same angle, making the beams visible but at the same time allowing them to blend seamlessly.
Lest it seem too calculated, the entire setup was actually demonstrated outdoors in a forested area called the Nikola-Lenivets Park. The park aims to be “a natural self regulated environment for life, recreation, art and work in harmony with nature” 200 km away from Moscow, and the event that included the installation was called New Media Night 2014. As chief curator Ivan Polissky says, “It was important for artists to meet with existing parameters in the analogue world which they had to work with, which doesn’t happen that often with digital art.” Many artists met with more productive challenges working under the open sky.
He also notes that the specially adapted works have an ability to touch viewers more deeply. “Works produced for the festival are obviously all site-specific and must take into account the landscape in which they stand, the wind, the insects, that people who come across them will be intrigued and want to touch them. Our visitors often feel like they are experiencing them personally, face to face, surrounded only by the night sky.” With these challenges already met, we could hopefully see more installations like this in the near future.