As part of my my ongoing collaboration with Jono Retallick, [musson+retallick] recently exhibited an exterior lighting installation which questions social behaviour. The illuminated forms are inspired by insect and plant life which cluster in colonies and were on display as part of the Luminale lighting event in Frankfurt earlier this year.
Our concept was to present two colonies at different developmental stages existing within sight of each other but without describing their relationship to each other. The viewers were invited to move amongst the lit elements leading to discussions about the nature of the colonies.
We wanted to ask more questions than we answered; this installation consisted of two groups of different life forms confronting each other. It was not clear whether they are friendly or hostile. We are interested in using light, colour and pattern as a way of creating art which provokes conversation by describing several possibilities. This installation was seen by 25,000 people in one week and there were some profound discussions taking place amongst the crowds.
‘Colonies’ consists of a group of cocoon like forms hanging in a tree, each containing a grub which ‘breathes’ with gently pulsing light. Their counterparts are brightly lit forms which grow from the ground and radiate colour changing light. They are printed onto translucent film with magnified detail from insect and plant life; patterns which appear to change shape as the illuminated colour changes. The two groups communicate through a series of lighting sequences which build up to a frenzy of information exchange.
Many people have reflected that this is a very poignant piece of work at a time when groups of immigrants and refugees are making their way into Europe and communities are questioning how to respond to this mass relocation of culturally diverse people. What do you think?