Light Night at the Nottingham Contemporary

Natasha explores the light and sound exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary...

Nottingham Contemporary held two separate displays last Friday night which played with the use of ‘Sound’ and ‘Light’. Natasha went along to see what the exhibitions were all about…

Just outside the gallery was the ‘Illumaphonium’: a giant multi-sensory, music making sculpture.

The installation was massive, having chime-bars fitted in rows that illuminated a bright blue colour when touched with a metal bar. Each individual bar varied in sound, being either a high or low pitch, that was loud or quiet depending on how you hit the bar. This was a very fun and spontaneous experience, as many people would come up and hit different bars at different times, so the outcome was a like a mini-community making music together.

Essentially, strangers had come together to create a sound; not only was this a fun experience, but there was also a sense of togetherness and fulfilment that arose. The sound had a wind-chime effect, being a continuous smooth sound that was very satisfying to hear, especially knowing that you contributed to making this music! As well as the sound element, a blue wave of light sailed up and down the sculpture, varying in shades of a light/dark blue colour.

Alongside this, Jim Brouwer presented an installation that showed how your voice can transform into light. This installation created different colours and flashes of light around the room as you spoke into a microphone.


Unfortunately, I think my experience here was a little disappointing. The ‘Space’ area in the gallery essentially became a mini-disco full of kids, screaming into these microphones and running around, creating a very unpleasant sound and visually, an overwhelming display of lights. Had there been less young children there, I think it would have been nicer to appreciate the brilliance of this invention.

Using 51 LED lights, it would have been interesting to observe how the lights changed depending on how high or low one would speak, or whether the lights would remain a consistent colour the longer you spoke into the microphone. Nevertheless, seeing these lights change as the kids screamed into the microphones was cool, as they would flash in an instant!

Natasha Manohar

Featured image and article images by Natasha Manohar.

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