Lights, Sounds and Senses: Play in Three Acts

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Courtesy of Alex Guardado


Imagine art that immerses you in its creativity and interactive experience. “Play: In Three Acts” at the Beall Center for Art + Technology does just that and explores three artists’ unique take on engagement and how the body experiences art.

The opening reception was held on Saturday, Feb. 7, with performers and the highlighted artists attending. The first piece I interacted with, “Light Wave” by Joe McKay, is a two-player art installation and video game played on 24 floor lamps.  McKay is a digital media artist and uses different levels of interactivity and games to highlight how our culture consumes and creates new technology.

With no set rules, his art piece has  two players  interact actively by hitting a pedestal with a hammer, which shoots the light through the different lamps to the second player. While fun, this installation also challenges the idea of what art really is. It’s a piece that can be enjoyed and interpreted as art and a game, pushing the boundaries and allowing even casual visitors to enjoy its unique qualities. In  order to truly experience the piece, one must be active and interact with it instead of mere casual observation of typical pieces.

This theme of interactivity is present yet unique to each individual piece. The second installation is “Dark Matter” by David Rokeby. Set in a darker space, the audience must navigate an invisible sculpture of sound. While adjusting to the darkness, your body gets a heightened sense of hearing and you must probe through the giant space to gain insights to unique sounds that change as you move.

These sounds are dynamically challenging and very physical, yet appear from almost thin air as one waves their hands and move around the installation. Instead of merely using one’s eyes, which can easily be deceived and can be abstract, one must use their ears. This sense then takes on a super heightened characteristic, and creates an experience for the whole body.

Explaining his piece, David Rokeby said, “Technology increasingly make your body less relevant, and my aim is to challenge those assumptions and use computers in a way turns this concept upside down,”

The third piece, “Body Envelope” by Nina Waisman, is a three-dimensional space of hanging wires and sensors.

“My goal was to present a piece that centers around your peripersonal space, and how your brain maps and distinguishes everything around you,” Nina said.  She produces varying multi-media products that explore the body’s space and time and its interactions with technology driven communication.

Each of the two different versions of this piece were choreographed and performed by difference dancers.  These projecting rods, each with a different sensitivity and sound react and create a sort of musical piece on space and sound. It’s a wholly different experience than only dancing or movement because it uses every area of space and movement and amplifies it.  Surrounding the visitor with sounds ranging from the cosmos to everyday interactions like nature or humans talking, this piece is elaborate and fun to experience.

Each part of this curated collection creates a wholly different experience between technology, humans and space. They create the seamless ability to interact and be a part of art. Definitely worth seeing, this exhibit will run from Feb. 7 through May 2.