The Light Show


© the artist/DACS; Image courtesy Atelier Cruz-Diez Paris; photo by Linda Nylind

Currently the most popular and critically acclaimed contemporary art exhibition in London, The Light Show, gives visitors the opportunity to witness some of the most innovate use of light and free-standing light displays. The exhibition, which is on at the Hayward Gallery, part of the Southbank Centre, will be available to the public until 6th May.

The Light Show features the work of 22 artists from all over the world, including Jim Campbell and Carlos Cruz- Diez, and includes artwork created from the 60s to present day. The Guardian’s article on the exhibition confirms that it “is both spectacle and lesson in colour, optics, perception and technology” (Adrian Searle, 2013).

Each light structure is on display in its own separate room in the exhibition, in order to emphasise the various shadows and optical illusions each design creates not only within the space but for the viewers. It is even possible to walk through some of the light structures, creating an interactivity between spectators and each design.

It must be said that some of the light structures create a larger impact than others in their interaction with space and viewers, and Leo Villareal’s Cylinder made up of sparkling light tubes is a particular highlight, as is the piece by Olafur Eliasson. It comes as no surprise that the most captivating designs are the more contemporary pieces, but the inclusion of older works highlight the how far digital art, especially in light projection, has progressed over the second half of the 20th century and at the turn of the century.

© the artist/DACS; Image courtesy Atelier Cruz-Diez Paris; photo by Linda Nylind

Many of the designs have also been made available online in video format, but this is nothing compared to the physical experience of being in a closed room experiencing the real thing. The exhibition, in this way, also demonstrates that despite technological and digital advances, a physical presence can still be essential in gaining a real feel for artwork.

With the physical impact this exhibition creates on viewers, it’s clear why it’s become one of the most talked about exhibitions this year in London. The Light Show indicates a possible pattern in the recent success of digital art exhibitions that concentrate on the viewer’s physical response and interaction, such as the Rain Room at the Barbican last year.

For the official Light Show website, including videos of some of the designs:

Article in the Guardian:


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