Wednesday, August 24, 2011

lite brite

Last week I went gallery hopping with a friend on a really nice Thursday evening and saw an installation by Leo Villreal that knocked my socks off. (Yes, I am wearing an ascot and a top hat.) A photo doesn't begin to do this piece justice. The structure itself is a giant scaffolded cylinder containing tons of tiny lights, controlled by some kind of midi computer that orchestrates thousands and thousands of variable patterns. While the column itself apparently weighs a bazillion tons, the lights infuse it with an airy, kinetic quality. It is at once invigorating and pacific, urgent and elusively methodical, hypnotic, unpredictable, a great escape, a giant road block, and, indisputably, the center of attention.

At any given moment the totemic patterns look like watching an interstate from above, Times Square, Blade Runner, a Bob Fosse musical, jumping to light speed in Star Wars, Xanadu, a meteor shower, a twinkling skyline, Atari, a fancy-dancing flapper dress, Tootsie's sequined dress, Studio 54, etc.. It has its own playful tempo, and yet is so much a function of calculated, computer-programmed timing. Ah! I just found an example of the sculpture in action:

It also reminds me of a lamp my parents have from the seventies just like this one (imagined without the digital clock and that Eye of Sauron thing in the top right corner):

I am very anxious to investigate Villreal's other work.

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