Cerith Wyn Evans and his neon art


Published on:

2017-08-16

We are no strangers to neon art. From Dan Flavin's minimalist neon light works to Bruce Nauman's dazzling conceptual text composed of neon lights, the medium of neon light has already taken over the major biennials and the prominent position of the museum.

We are no strangers to neon art. From Dan Flavin's minimalist neon light works to Bruce Nauman's dazzling conceptual text composed of neon lights, the medium of neon light has already taken over the major biennials and the prominent position of the museum. And when we saw Cerith Wyn Evans' two-kilometre-long neon installation Deciphering the Code at the Duveen Galleries at the Tate, Still can't help but be shocked.

"Forms in Space...by Light in Time" (Forms in Space...by Light in Time), which was opened earlier, can be described as a great feat of combining art and architectural engineering. The audience of the Duween Pavilion had to hold their heads up during the whole visit: all the neon lights were hung on the ceiling, and a two-kilometer-long "Galaxy" was constructed with straight lines, arcs and circles composed of various white lights. . The whole installation is like lines drawn with a pen in the air, similar to the "light photography" completed under slow shutter speed, and it seems to be a track map drawn by a well-trained acrobat when performing difficult movements in the air. This also guides the audience's perspective and line of sight to change constantly, as if the eyes need to receive all the light from the space above the exhibition hall - this is also the source of the exhibition title "Forms in Space".

These distorted and intertwined lines seem to be randomly distributed, but during the exhibition, the artist carefully numbered each light tube, used computer 3D simulation software to outline every detail, and marked the hanging lights on the ground in detail. high. As an out-and-out cross-border artist, Evans has worked as a photographer, experimental film director, sculptor, landscape architect and architectural designer, and has dabbled in almost all categories of contemporary art except painting. In this exhibition at Tate Britain, his artistic career has reached its peak, proving his artistic talent with works full of visual impact and philosophical thinking.

Evans graduated from St. Martin's School of Art and the famous Royal College of Art. Early in his career, in the 1980s, he was known as an experimental film director at major film festivals around the world. Evans has worked with renowned film director Michael Clarke and directed the 1988 Chicago Film Festival award-winning film Degrees of Blindness. In the 1990s, Evans' artistic creation turned to sculpture and installation. However, movies still deeply influenced his thinking on artistic creation. In his sculpture works, it is easy to find the source of his creative ideas: using pure visual art language, combining familiar words, plots and philosophies in movies to express his interest in language and communication. Frieze critic Jennifer Hedge once said of Evans: "His fondness for the shape of the ellipse, and the repetition of visual elements in his work, in a Platonic ideal way, reveals his reinterpretation of classic artistic and personal concepts."

For example, in Inverse Reverse Perverse, which debuted at White Cube in 1996, Evans hung a large concave mirror on the wall. So the audience sees three different selves in the mirror. This is like a distorting mirror in an amusement park, magnifying subjective experience through mirror reflection. This is also Evans' first attempt to investigate perceptual experience with his work. The mirror on the wall corresponds to the human retina and is a question to the visual mechanism of the human eye.

In Evans' 15-minute video Firework Text (1998), he used neon tubes to compose famous Italian avant-garde director Pier Paolo Pasolini's film Russian Line from Oedipus Rex: "In Livenza (Italian city), the lush willows of the river are swaying in the wind, their branches and leaves are drooping, and they are immersed in the river." Neon tubes in the dark scene The lights flickered continuously, and finally went out slowly. Evans used two cameras, switching between the two shots at a fixed frequency, in contrast to the frequency of the neon lights flashing. The filming location was placed near the town of Ostia, the Roman city where Pasolini was murdered. Through this work, Evans expresses his respect for the film industry in the simplest form.

Evans' installation works have already broken through the limitations of space and shape, and combined lighting, video, the most advanced computer technology and even cutting-edge cosmic science. His 2006 video installation Siegfried Marx: Astrophotography...The Traditional Measure of Photographic Speed in Astronomy...by Siegfried Marx , 1987), is such a work that has a very high test for the audience. Evans hung from the ceiling of the showroom a magnificent volcanic glass chandelier made by a Venetian workshop. The switch of the chandelier is controlled by a computer, using light and shade to form Morse code, and the content is a passage in "The Development of Astrophotography" published by astronomer Siegfried Marx in 1987. This passage was also simultaneously played on a monitor in the exhibition hall. For Evans, he always draws the audience into his imagination and the bizarre world he constructs.

Neon lights are just a tool for Evans' "painting", and the neon lights in the Tate Museum exhibition will not flicker. However, this is exactly a kind of return of the artist after experiencing complex multimedia creation. In a more concise but spectacular form, "Form in Space-Light and Time" brings to the audience a diagram of celestial bodies, encouraging them to find their own world in a space full of metaphors and connections.