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Immersive Art Installations Light Up Houston’s Day for Night Festival

Day for Night in Houston has invited 14 artists to create interactive art installations at the festival which celebrates sound and light.

children-of-the-light
Reflector Suits by Children of the Light (all images courtesy Day For Night)

Approaching in less than two weeks is Day for Night, the weekend-long music and art festival in Houston. Musicians from Blood Orange to Butthole Surfers fill its lineup for the event’s second coming, but while the concerts may be the main draw for many, there’s also a number of immersive and interactive art installations for those looking for a little respite from the packed crowds or perilous mosh pits.

Curator Alex Czetwertynski has selected 15 interntional artists to contribute new media works that all involve light manipulations (did you really expect oil paintings to feature at a music festival headlined by Aphex Twin?) — a nod to the festival’s name, which refers to the cinematic techniques used to present the illusion of night even while shooting during the day. Day for Night is held this year at the former Barbara Jordan Post Office, which was designed in the ’60s and boasts a beautiful concrete facade. We’re looking forward to seeing how these technology-based installations will look in its now empty, mid-century spaces; here are six that have already caught our attention. And don’t sleep on entering Hyperallergic’s giveaway to win two tickets, airfare, and hotel accommodations for the festival. Hyperallergic is a media sponsor for Day for Night.

Children of the Light, “Reflector Suits”

It’ll be hard not to spot the Amsterdam-based visual artists Christopher Gabriel and Arnout Hulskamp, together known as Children of the Light: just look out for a pair of dudes in near-blinding, illuminated attire. Shining bright white, these “Reflector Suits” make their performers appear as mysterious, invisible men clothed in dynamic suits, caps, and perfectly round sunglasses. Gabriel and Hulskamp’s will be staging improvisational performances at the festival, moving through spaces like living sculptures; specters with offbeat sartorial sensibilities.

bjork digital
bjork digital

Björk, “Björk Digital”

Björk, in one sense, stunned the art world with her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art last year. That was, simply, Björk. But now we also have Björk Digital, which premiered in Sydney in June. The exhibition itself manifests in physical space, IRL, but its five rooms are filled with digital and video works all experienced in virtual reality — which has proven to be pretty much the hottest artistic medium of 2016. They all accompany songs on Vulnicura, the Icelandic musician’s album that was released last year. I’ll let Björk herself take it away:

i feel the chronological narrative of the album is ideal for the private circus virtual reality is . a theatre able to capture the emotional landscape of it ive put importance in the exhibition on the interactive element , that folks can watch vulnicura on vr and try biophilia w ipads and a cinema room with all my videos in 5.1

Shoplifter Nervescape
Shoplifter, “Nervescape” (2016) at the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art in Australia

Shoplifter, “Nervescape”

Hair is the medium of choice of the Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardótti, who goes by Shoplifter. The 2011 recipient of the Nordic Award in Textiles, she makes work of all scales, from small, delicate objects she calls “nonsicles” to pieces that consume entire spaces. For Day for Night, she’s created a work that will literally consume and get bigger — according to a release, “Nervescape” is a “living, breathing interactive sculpture that feeds on sounds, growing inside a large cage.”

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Golan Levin, “Ghost Pole Propagator”

Golan Levin, “Ghost Pole Propagator”

Last time we checked in on new media artist Golan Levin, he was busy developing Terrapattern, an absorbing visual search engine for urban aerial patterns. At Day for Night, he presents a project that focuses on the expressive potential of the most minimal of human forms: the stick figure. “Ghost Pole Propagator,” which Levin first developed in 2007 for an exhibition in Newcastle, England, responds to its observers movements, with a setup capturing and translating gestures into simple but evocative lines. At Newcastle, Levin had projected these resulting figures on the walls of an old, 13th century castle, where they resembled cryptic petrogylphs; we’ll see what the effect is in Houston, where the mood will undoubtedly be quite different.

Damien Echols, “Sigil Room”

You may recognize Damien Echols as one of the West Memphis Three, but since his release from prison five years ago, he’s focused on writing and making art. Glyphs and sigils feature strongly in his visual work; at the festival, he will immerse viewers in a room illuminated with these magical signs, where he will also stage a performance

Alex Czetwertynski Blurware
Alex Czetwertynski Blurware

Alex Czetwertynski, “Blurware”

Czetwertynski has described his contribution as “an excavator wrapped in white pillows” — and I’m really hoping it involved a real life, true-to-scale piece of heavy construction because that would just be absurd, especially if it actually moves. Whatever the size of this swaddled work, the artist and curator will use the blank surfaces as screens, projecting videos on them to explore “the blurry line between soft(ware) and hard(ware), body and mind, solid state, and immaterial aspiration.” But remember: while under the influence, do not operate heavy machinery.

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