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Art/Science Forum by Beverly Reiser with Susannah Gardiner Edited by Susannah Gardiner The exhibit Lights On!: Self-Illuminated Sculpture began its tour of the United States at the Walnut Creek (California) Civic Arts Gallery, appearing 30 April through 7 June 1987. Each of the nine artists featured creates sculptures in lightemitting media such as neon tubes and video screens. All of the work is kinetic, or changing in time. Unlike the kinetic art of the 1950s and 1960s, however, these pieces do not rely on moving parts; it is the light that changes, by brightening, dimming and changing hues. Thus the effect of change or movement is achieved by electronic rather than mechanical means. The content of these artworks varies widely, rangingfrom the meditative to the playful to the apocalyptic. Larry Albright’s works combine rare gases and electronic circuitry to create effects reminiscent of the fantastic elements of some old-time electronic machines. He captures neon and other rare gases within aglasssphere. Electronic circuitry excites the gases to cause lightning-like effects, which the viewer can control by turning knobs or running his or her hands over the surface of the sphere. Chapel Champagne, Shrine o f the Latter-Day Nuanced Naivete is one of a series of room-sized installation pieces called ‘Altars’ by Lee Roy Champagne. This altar is covered with neon lights, mirrors and an assortment of plastic dolls, skulls, missiles and religious objects. There is also an acoustic element that the viewer activates by kneeling before the altar. Lee Roy Champagne’s work reminds us of art’s origins as a magical-religious ceremony and, at the Beverly Reiser, 6979 Exeter Drive, Oakland, CA 94611. U.S.A. 0 1988 EAST Pergamon Press plc Printed in Great Britain. 0024-094X/87 $3.00+0.00 Sculpting with Light same time, holds up a mirror to contemporary secular society. Ed Duin reflects light off acrylic and glass with polarized surfaces in order to break it down into its constituent colors (Fig. I). These polarized surfaces are arranged inside a light box about the size of a small television set. As the surfaces in the box move, or as the viewer moves, the colors appear to change. The gradually evolving colors and their undulating forms make up a calm and soothing kinetic composition. Ken Herrick constructs kinetic sculptures from tubes of neon. He devised electronic circuitry that interrupts the neon’s emission of light intermittently, so that the tubes seem to be filled with glowingbubbles travelingback and forth. In several of his sculptures, a photocell detects the viewer’s presence and gives a signal that causes the bubbles to move faster; this ‘agitated’ behavior appears to be in response to the viewer. In Jack’s Bean Stalk, Milton Komisar uses an elaborate network of acrylic rods and concealed lightbulbs to make an ever-changing, three-dimensional drawing in light. The light from the hidden bulbs pulses through the rods to form lines of light apparently suspended in space. The lights are programmed to switch on and off and to change colors in continuously varying sequences. Fig. 1. Ed Duin, U-2A,polarized acrylic and glass, small motor, 22 X 20 X 8 in, 1981. LEONARDO, Vol. 21, NO.2, pp. 200-203,1988 Each of Alan Rath’s video sculptures uses one or more CRTscreens.Displayed on the screensareimagesin motion, often close-up views of body parts-opening, closing, blinking and throbbing. Rath deliberately leaves the electronic components of the pieces exposed in order to call the viewer’sattention to the medium producing the imagery, and to the idea of the medium itself as imagery. These works seem to prod us to a greater awarenessof an artist’stools asextensions of his or her senses. Neon light is diffused through sandblasted glass and mirrors in Beverly Reiser’s wall pieces (Fig. 2). The various hues of neon light wash into each other, and the glass glows in soft color gradations. The brightness of the light is controlled by a microprocessor, which allows the brightness of each color to change according to its own time cycle; the mixof colors seemsinfinitelyvarying. The compositions have a fluid quality that is...


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pp. 200-201
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