Regenbog + Waldeinsamkeit
Benjamin Verdonck: Regenbog + Waldeinsamkeit
Factual description by the students of the second workshop on light, organized by Reflecting Light research group around the notion of Synesthesia, as part of the project week at KASK 2023 March
The conversation was recorded and typed out. The description was a practice addressed to Piet Devos.
By Benjamin Verdonck and Lucas van Haesbroeck
There were two consecutive theater pieces we have seen, and we have not left for the intermission.
The first piece was around 23 minutes, the second one 13 minutes.
When we entered the space the tribune was set up in diagonal, facing a machine that was performed upon. It was completely wooden on the outside, very light wooden panels, and he had these strings or ropes he was pulling that changed the scenery. It was basically a ‚kijkbox‘, (a peeping box i would say), so you look through it, and the panel opens, so there are these moving panels.
The title was Rainbow, but at first you would only see shades of grey, and black. You had these light sources on the right side, and the panels changed depending on how he pulled the ropes.
And it had this illusion of (maybe this is an interpretation already) of depth. It kept moving. In the beginning there was this moving panel that was completely black, so it really shadowed the other parts. There was some contemporary music accompanying the performance, a soundscape.
It was very synchronized together, movement and rhythm.
Next to it you would see his hands from the little light leaking to the side of the box.
The music that he made made it really into a synesthesia show, the way it was activating the two senses at the same time.
And then colors happened, after a long time.
It was called Rainbow, and I think I saw why- because all the time these panels were shoving over each other, so they were always separated and there were always different colors next to each other, and when they went over each other the colors changed each other. So when a dark panel shadowed a bright one it changed its color into dark, and became bright again when the dark panel got removed…
I remember at the transition between the gray and the colors there was this light source that became stronger, so there was this light source on the right dim, and when the colors got introduced it became much brighter. First I think it was purple, then blue then green and then red next to each other, like in panels, and then they got before each other and became different colors, but in the beginning it was mostly purple and blue.
The music became less dissonant as the colors started to come in. First it was all dissonant chords and it became harmonious, pleasant. In the end it became a very simple piano progression while in the beginning it was a more complex soundscape.
The first piece there was just left to right panel movements, in the second one it was multi-directional.
In the second piece they were not super expressive colors, almost pastels. On the other hand we were allowed to look at the machine after the performance, and we have only seen LED.
And with LED the quality of the light is very different to halogens. This time they were integrated in such way that you wouldn't get this harsh LED light quality and blunt colors, so possibly pastels were a functional choice. The light quality was also because of the diffusion of the panels. They have a distinct color, not gray, not white. That shifted a little bit the overall color.
It was a really nice ending with e sound, and it never went back to black and white, it stayed color.
The light of the room came back, we have seen the machine, with a palette lifter it was carried away, and another similar looking machine was brought to the space.
We could see a lot of light leaking from the side, which was not like that in the previous machine.
There were two panels in the middle, and when he opened them, we realized those two panels made the black out. And then afterwards the focus came back to the machine, that was great.
Then we entered this world of moving panels both vertical and horizontal. Four different pairs of panels opened up, really like the movement of a diaphragm.
From where I was sitting I didn’t see depth so well, so it looked like a theater with many curtains, endlessly opening.
The panels were not full rectangles, some had cut-outs.
It made us think about the experimentation of Bauhaus with color and shape, very geometric…
He told us at the beginning the title was Waldeinsamkeit, that is a German word without a literal translation to Dutch, and it means when you are in nature, in an amazing view, in something very big, and you feel very tiny as a person compared to the scenery.
And then in the end of the piece something happened that I don't know what it was but I need to discuss it with you. It was with red back light, t looked like a bone of an Osso buco, and it was completely breaking all the spatial ideas I had till then from my angle. What I got was that there was no more panels, just this object with low intensity backlight, playing on the border of visibility. Who tells me what it was?
It was his hand!
..It was not a space steak..
t was his hand, it was moving.
From my angle, I have seen his black clothes with silver dots on it, which dots got some dim light,
from which I could clearly see his posture.
It was also lit in such a weird way, so it was very 3D in the beginning and then it was lit in such a weird way, I was weirded out, I did not know what it was, I thought it was a rose that was dying.
It was back diagonal light in red.
Piet: I am interested if any of you felt synesthetic, because I have the impression that the piece seems to have played on several senses at the same time, or was it a mainly visual impact?
For me it was quite visual.
For me too. I have more memories of the form and the perspective who create his, and the black wall in the end, and this kind of kaleidoscope always moving. And if I have a memory of this piece my visual sense was most stimulated. Sound felt more accompanying it.
Yes it felt like sound was made afterwards.
Which for me was working very intricately in the first piece. Some colors and movements in relation to sound were very intricate. In the second piece I felt indeed the sound was a translation of all those visual happenings.
For me it was seeing James Turrell with the set design of the’30-s. A combination of some things super visual, and some things super artisan.
There was another very nice thing, that he was always pulling the strings, never pushing anything.
That gives a very nice quality of the movement, it is almost like weaving.
Piet: so actually apart from the lighting, the piece was rather mechanical?
Yes I was speculating on the second soundtrack masking a motor sound because I was expecting a motor somewhere.
One thing that I found rather interesting is that the two machines had temporality, meaning that you would start them, and go to the end of the sequence, and then that is it. I like this relation to time, and the pulling and sliding, the machine and life span.