The innovative digital artists use millions of beams of light, convex mirrors, projection and scanning to create ethereal, floating sculptures which are animated through space and time. Light Barrier pushes against the limitations of the digital and the physical, attempting to bring digital objects into free physical space. The Korean-British artist duo manage to transform the viewers into their own ‘light barrier’ - an eerie, yet magical zone, an idealised space of fantasy and wonder which is an ephemeral illusion with an enduring experience.
KK: You use light almost in the way of impressionist painters. Computer code is your brush stroke, filling your unconventional canvases with light of a new kind. Why are you so much fascinated by natural light?
The brush strokes of the impressionist painters reveal the code they used to generate the details of their paintings. Their hand is programmed with the right muscle memory to create delicate descriptions of light, encoded through a process of many sessions practising and refining and rethinking approaches. This code is then used repeatedly and consistently, varying only deliberately in order to create the diverse elements and tones of the image. Their obsession with natural light drove these techniques, which in turn redirected the artistic dialogue of the time.
Our obsession is with digital light, and instead of developing forms and mechanisms to represent natural light using paint or other materials, we instead have developed our techniques which use digital light as the material, in turn using it to express form and concepts in natural space. The Impressionists articulated natural light with paint, in turn we articulate forms with digital light.
KK: What was the idea behind Light Barrier?
The work Light Barrier carries our ongoing journey of ‘drawing in the air’, an exploration between material and immaterial. Our intention is to create graphic forms which have visual mass, but are physically weightless. To achieve this we brush against the walls of reality, thereby referencing the light barrier, the universal law which constrains the speed of matter to always be slower than the speed of light.
KK: What kind of sound and atmosphere can the viewers of SIGNAL expect when making a stop at the Light Barrier installation during SIGNAL?
Visitors will encounter a thick field of smoke, out of which will appear unreal objects which traverse the space in front and around them. These objects sound out spatial tones as they travel, encompassing the viewer in a hall of light, phantoms, smoke and sound.
KK: Your art made a few stops around the world. Where did you travel with the Light Barrier and what is your last stop?
Light Barrier began at Nikola-Lenivets sculpture park in rural Russia, commissioned by FutureEverything and The British Council, and has since been shown a the Da Vinci Festival in Seoul this autumn. SIGNAL Festival is the first stop on Light Barrier’s European tour this winter, which will take it to Eindhoven, Newcastle and more.
KK: Are you excited to be part of the Prague Light Festival SIGNAL this year?
We’ve always heard great things about both the beauty and depth of the city, and of the energy and ambition of SIGNAL Festival. We’re hugely excited to present our work to the audience in Prague, and to see the reaction that our work brings. We look forwards to experiencing all the diverse artworks at the festival, and to get up to some adventures with the people and the city.
Interview Katerina Kombercova