Macular at Wood Street Galleries | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Macular at Wood Street Galleries

Kinetic light installations get contemplative, and frenetic

Joris Strijbos and Daan Johan’s “Parsec”
Joris Strijbos and Daan Johan’s “Parsec”

Macular, an exhibit at Wood Street Galleries by the internationally known Dutch art collective of the same name, features four room-sized kinetic light installations. The results range from contemplative to jarring.

Somehow on the contemplative side, despite a sound component suggesting a dentist’s drill, is “Fading Shadows,” by Nicky Assmann and Joris Strijbos. Two screens facing each other from opposite walls display strobing, constantly shifting grid patterns as cast by projectors mounted on the rising, falling or rotating arms of three robots. The idea is to explore the moiré effect, which results from superimposing two patterns. Stand in different spots in the small chamber for different takes; each warping, blurring screen is trippiest when it fills your field of vision.

Almost hypnotic is Strijbos and Matthijs Munnik’s “Shifting Structures.” In a high-ceilinged, darkened room, each of five ceiling-mounted metal bars holds a 12-foot-long rod that includes a lit-up translucent tube (think: light saber) and slowly rotates in the vertical plane, clockwise or counter-clockwise, each aiming its dot of incandescence at ceiling, wall, floor in turn. Engineered to display “balance and self-correction” as they move, the antenna-like rods emote a quiet sentience, like bioluminescent sea creatures, complete with a sound element suggesting underwater bells.

Eric Parren’s “Undulator” bounces pulsating colored light off rippling reflective surfaces; the three resulting wall-sized projections are translucent and spasmodic, like microscopic bits of animal tissue dancing in an electric current. “Undulator” is silent, though you might not realize it at first because of the sound bleeding from the adjacent chamber: the high-pitched, metallic audio, sometimes siren-like, that heralds “Parsec.” Strijbos and Daan Johan offer 12 10-foot-long metal arms, each attached at its midpoint to a frame, with a light on each end of each arm and an audio speaker at each midpoint. Each arm spins at varying speeds in the vertical plane, the lights brightening and dimming. If you like your sound and kinesis both nerve-wracking, “Parsec” is for you: When all the arms speed up at once and the lights blink madly, it’s quite a show, a miniature carnival ride gone wild.