In RGB|CMY Kinetic by ART+COM, the movement of light becomes an artistic spectacle. Five free-floating rings dance through a black sky, reflecting red, green, and blue lights onto the floor while casting cyan, magenta, and yellow shadows on a bright circle below. Accompanying this light show is a musical score that’s ultimately shaped by the movement of these discs. This multisensory kinetic performance brings to the forefront the movement of light and sound, attempting to capture their majesty in spite of their imperceptible swiftness.
The primary object of this piece’s inspiration is the refractory nature of light as it meets a prismatic surface. One light, simply by touching a prism, becomes a whole wealth of colors, enough to form their very own rainbows. In this piece, a single disc, reflective in the center and bordered with white, becomes a medium for a breadth of different artistic expressions. Red, green, and blue lights are shone onto these discs as they dance around, reflecting alike circles onto the dark ground. The bright, almost white circle on the ground right under the discs is actually a combination of bright red, green, and blue lights. While these mirrors are dancing above the stage, each one casts three shadows, colored cyan, magenta, and yellow, onto the white space below. Not only that, but these discs produce their own musical score according to their movements, giving birth to an auditory rainbow of sorts. These elements all combine in various ways, creating a multilayered audiovisual piece that’s diverse within itself. The prismatic nature of the piece is mesmerizing and complex, meant to reflect light’s more generative qualities.
Speaking of its generative qualities, it’s incredibly interesting that this piece chose to explore these two color models as well as prisms. In terms of digital media, RGB and CMYK are known for their interesting nature as they are capable of creating any color when combined in their various intensities. Red, blue, and green can create pink, green, and any color in between, and CMYK is capable of the same thing. As similar as they are, however, there’s an incredible difference between them. RGB is additive; CMYK is subtractive. This can be seen as the audience watches red, green, and blue lights dance throughout their dark space outside of the white circle. Black is the absence of color in an RGB color model, so these circles bloom up out of this darkness in much the same way as any color in RGB does. CMYK, however, exists in a limited white space, playing on both the color model’s subtractive nature and its existence as a hallmark of the printing process. Instead of being a base for color to grow out of, white contains the potential, through having its brightness subtracted through shadows, to create any color. The vibrant shadows in this piece are capable of this color creation, forming black shadows when the disc is too close to the ground. In much the same way, the lights outside are able to form white lights upon converging.
While this piece is somewhat minimalist in nature, its different qualities form a complex dialogue with both the natural world and the digital landscape, mediating between and representing both “sides” of this discussion. This dialogue is inherently educational as is the case for a lot of ART+COM Studious’ works. They’re interested in teaching their audience about different subjects through artistic presentations like they’ve done with RGB|CMY Kinetic. In playing with both the nature of light and color models, usually constructed for human-made media, the piece adopts an intriguing duality. This almost-contradictory quality of the piece allows for its two arguments to communicate with one another. They can either create contrasts, disallowing for any common ground that isn’t divided, or they can synthesize in wonderful, sweeping movements of color. The viewer is capable of drawing any particular conclusion; ART+COM simply asks that they base it off of correct knowledge and a true understanding of light’s mechanisms and technological functions.
Delta Phi is another kinetic sculpture by ART+COM that explores a physical principle---caustics---the refraction of light upon coming into contact with water. A flashlight bobs up and down in a dark room, shining down on a surface resembling water. The light is reflected, becoming a sea of stars up above, changing as the flashlight ascends and descends. Look at the shimmer cast on the dark ceiling, how each little “freckle” becomes a fluid movement when stretched out, resembling the constant shift of standing water. Much like RGB|CMY Kinetic, Delta Phi tackles light and its properties by displaying them, yet there’s a more precise focus driving this demonstration. Though this piece presents a more congested and complex display, it lacks the audible qualities of RGB|CMY Kinetic. There’s no particular play with sound, so Delta Phi only works within the realm of light, allowing for an expansive elaboration on caustics. RGB|CMY Kinetic plays with and abstracts its tackled property, traversing the boundary between sound, shadow, and light in order to play with sound. It’s a bit messier in that way as it juggles several different performances at the same time. However, the risk is monumental in the way that it teaches the audience about the refraction of light and the ways in which it expresses several different concepts. Delta Phi is both beautiful and incredibly effective with the demonstration of its physical principle, but unlike RGB|CMY Kinetic, it doesn’t capture this idea and experiment with it in ways that feel intensely experiential. It simply depicts light refracting on water, allowing for the audience to observe an ocean rather than submerging them within the sea.
RGB by Carnovsky deals with the RGB color model in a similar way as RGB|CMY Kinetic does, depicting the effect of any colored light on the piece at any given time. Imagine a painting filled with a messy conglomeration of different greens, reds, blues, and the combinations between them, depicting a scene that can’t really be pinned down to a single moment, only several. Now, a red light covers the room, and the painting depicts the skeletal system; next, a blue light transforms it into a representation of the nervous system; finally, it displays the muscular system under a green filter. The “normal” states of the rooms and paintings, much like the circle on the ground, is white---a combination of red, green, and blue under the RGB color system. When this white space is changed to red, green, or blue, it simultaneously uncovers a new picture and becomes something less than an intersection of those three colors. A similar thing happens in RGB|CMY Kinetic, with the depiction of cyan, magenta, and yellow shadows; however, it never deals with the possibility of subtracting this color model.
Perhaps that’s because it’s grounded in ART+COM’s physics-based approach while RGB transcends the limitations of the additive and subtractive binary. RGB, while sharing a similar subject matter, does not seem to be wholly committed to an educational display. It instead wishes to explore color theory which is a primarily artistic principle. One has to wonder what significance each color has with each piece; why would blue uncover the nervous system while red displays the skeletal system? By answering this question, the audience uncovers the more conceptual aspects of color theory relating to how people interpret colors. Whereas ART+COM is deeply rooted in communicating complex, scientific ideas about light to a large audience, Carnovsky wishes to explore color as artistic expression. Regardless of these differences, both pieces help to abstract these seemingly simple color models in the ways that they must be considered, serving as two discursive instances of the vast potential space that both offer when overlapping.
RGB|CMY Kinetic tackles a concept that’s almost too deep to explore with a single piece of art. It’s imperative, then, that this work exists in a liminal space in which several different modes of communication exist. ART+COM Studios takes kinetic sculptures to new heights, moving past “sculpture” and into a deep, multi-layered expression of light itself, not just its movement. The discs of RGB|CMY Kinetic move beyond themselves in order to become something new and distinctive; they project lights, shadows, music, and an idea with all of its complexities. The power behind these airborne mirrors is a force of nature itself, possessing a depth that succeeds at matching its conceptual basis.
Premiere, SónarPLANTA Barcelona. 2015.
Opening Exhibition, Asian Art Center. Gwangju, South Korea. 2015.