Electric light (facts/figures) continues Daniel von Sturmer’s investigation into light as a powerful and fluid material. The installation involves a programmed intelligent light which projects custom drawn geometric shapes: a square, a circle, lines and grids (the ‘figures’) that extend or warp within different galleries or environments (interacting with the ‘facts’ of the space). The work uses technology as an active generator of images and encounters within the gallery space, and brings the apparatus into play as a kind of character in the unfolding drama. Expanding on static light works of Michel Verjux, Barbara Kasten and others, the work engages directly with architectural propositions inherent within the spaces, as well as the overlooked and forgotten artefacts of use such as abandoned hooks, isolated bollards, or plumbing work unsuccessfully hidden in gallery white paint.
Each iteration of the work responds directly to the given space and is programmed in response the given conditions as found. As the light beam shifts around the space, the audience is ‘choreographed’ along with it, moving their heads and bodies to follow the artwork. The light has character, making sudden declarative movements, toying between playfulness and authority and keeping viewers guessing. In hitting the unique architectural ‘facts’ of a space, the walls, the trees, the fire hydrant, the light creates a demarcated environment with multiple end points. This work expands the possibilities of using light in an exhibition context to engage with discourse on the relationship between viewer and viewed, the role of architecture in framing an artwork and how meaning is generated in encounters with conceptually driven, performative installations.
The first iteration was exhibited at longstanding and reputable artist-run-initiative Bus Projects in 2016. In 2017 Electric Light (facts/figures/federation square) was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture ($60,000). Site-specific iterations were then shown at New Zealand’s Starkwhite commercial gallery and the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, who acquired the work. Other site-specific iterations were exhibited at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney and the highly regarded Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.