Fibrespace @ Wei-Ling Gallery

Note: Picture captions below are interpretative titles by this blog author, and not the title of a particular artwork. There is only one art installation, it is called Fibrespace (2013), and these are photographs taken of it.

[Ground floor] Antique furniture greets the visitor who sips on rich flavours from a single malt, the whiskey sponsor a necessity in realising this landmark event. Conceived and constructed by Claudia Bueno, the Venezuelan hails from a country associated with Optical artists Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesús Rafael Soto. Claudia is known as a light artist, as I fear the worst with the dreadful images of Dan Flavin's fluorescent tubes and Bruce Nauman's neon words, floating in mind. Ascending the stairs, one is reminded of the fire that razed this building, before the reconstructed space became one of KL's most enchanting gallery space. Pulling thick drapes aside, darkness sets in. Tree branches seem to sprout from the ground, its cocoon forms weaving towards the ceiling in a nest-like structure, as the eyes continue to adjust in the dark.

Phoenix rising

[First floor, facing it] A video of water with bubbles are projected onto this voluminous structure, beginning a 25-minute theatrical excursion. Soft light ripple with no ominous intent, recalling a longing last seen in Wong Kar Wai's Ashes of Time, in the scene where Carina Lau waits in a pool of water on a horse. The absorbing scene draws one to approach the installation, as the flickering accelerates into a sequence of manic fairy lights. Shimmering rays bounce off organic shapes, filling the space with impressions of refracting light, transporting one into the coolness of oceanic waters. After the cool waves recede into darkness, slow-burning embers light up the textured strands of hardened string. As if in a psychological horror movie, short bursts of fire punctuate the field of vision, resurfacing an uncomfortable memory. When flames engulf the entire construct, a rising phoenix takes shape within the structure, swallowing the wooden furniture that occupy the gallery space. The usually warm space gets hotter.

Dancing water; The falls

[First floor, by its side] Devoid of natural light, this installation is site-specific only in its fiery tribute to the building’s history, which is the most resplendent phase among the 3. The gallery interior is recognizable in the shadows, where silhouettes form images familiar to regular visitors. Space and light is manipulated thoroughly by the artist, whose lofty ambition is eventually realised in sparkling blue. Flames subside then electricity fills the area. Burning alcohol, the third projection, most resembles the nervous system Claudia intended to recreate. Synaptic pulses come and go, no time to react, ephemeral yet deeply representational. This amplification of a routine happening, inside the living body, glorifies the human capacity within its hard-wired constraints. Boundaries are altered by natural elements, as I wonder how interesting will it be if the installation is subjected to Wind.

The beginning of the end

[First floor, in it] Walking into the webbed formation, the glare from the projecting machines becomes obvious. Acting the metaphorical sun, the projectors direct light and life within, invoking an archaic sentiment to worship the Sun-God. The collective stria are made of lifeless materials, yet its natural forms sufficiently allow the living to meditate on its lines and contours. Gazing upwards, lightning freezes overhead in dramatic stop-motion fashion. A surprising discovery after 15 minutes of taking photographs, is the difference between a camera’s image and one’s experience of the same area. Gushing water and an electric storm light up the digital screen, whereas the human eye and brain only register transient flat colours. Context and picture composition are negated, replaced by thoughts of light spectrum and phenomenology, igniting mental debate over interpretations.

Electric storm; Lightning cloud

[Second & Third floors] Climbing the creaking stairs momentarily reminds the visitor where s/he is. Upstairs, detached from the filaments, one is disengaged from the ocular assault. A different perspective compounds the irritating distraction of whirring fans. Magnification of an internal organ states a contemporary intent, although the crude materials used, manifests an artist still focusing only on the final presentation. Hanging in the office are her multi-layered paintings which apply the same philosophy. The characteristics of light art - binaries and contrasts - is also its limitation, as colour and process awaits further exploration. Despite the fleeting visuals projected, the installation demands the viewer to linger in and around it, reflecting on random thoughts seemingly unconnected. The experience has triumphed over visual stimuli. In that moment, one recalls Nelson Goodman's thesis, “When is Art?”

Moonlight; The source