Winter Sparks

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Bring me home, please

This weekend, i'd like to send you to Liverpool. There's a good show -as usual- at the Open Eye Gallery and a couple of exhibitions at Tate Liverpool and Bluecoat (i haven't seen those but they sound promising). Plus, some one told me that i had just missed David Hasselhoff the other day. What more would you want? Maybe a few large-scale installations showing the work of artists who use scientific experiments as a raw material?

That's what the exhibition Winter Sparks at the FACT gallery is all about. The figure at the core of the work exhibited is the one of the engineer whose inventions and ingenuity almost single-handedly shaped the 20th century technology: Nikola Tesla. There are only three installations in the show, each of them large-scale, impressive and attempting to make scientific processes visible. I'm going to single out Evolving Spark Network and write about the others in my next post.

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Edwin van der Heide, Evolving Spark Network, 2012. Installation at FACT. Photographer: Brian Slater

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Edwin van der Heide, Evolving Spark Network, 2012. Installation at FACT. Photographer: Brian Slater

There's something direct and almost visceral in each of the works exhibited but Edwin van der Heide's installation is particularly powerful in the way it hypnotizes you.

Evolving Spark Network hangs from the ceiling in a grid of small modules that produces sudden bursts of light and sound. Electric sparks are flashing, crackling and exploding above your head. It's loud, the sound seems to physically hit your body, and it's a bit scary. Yet, you can't peel your eyes off them.

The artist explains that he sees the installation as a large, amplified neurosystem. Each spark is like a neuron which pulses and communicates information to other neurons.
The sparks in the installation are interconnected and they communicate with each other through patterns controlled by an algorithm. Sometimes, the sparks flow around slowly. Sometimes, they move in fast outbursts

An electric spark is one of the most elementary forms of light generation, while the impulse produced produces the shortest imaginable sound. Composing with these impulses can therefore be seen as one of the most fundamental forms of composition in time and space.

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Edwin van der Heide, Evolving Spark Network, 2012. portrait of the artist. Photographer: Brian Slater

Winter Sparks remains open at FACT in Liverpool until 24 February 2013.

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