The Particle and the Wave
by Tracy DiTolla
What is light? It is always around us whether from the sun, moon and stars or human-directed electricity. In our world, a flick of a switch causes darkness to disappear in a warm glow of luminosity. Light affects the way color appears to us, influences our moods, and keeps the planet livable. How often do we take the time to sit down and contemplate our relationship with light? The Particle and the Wave asks that question. This exhibition at Index Art Center in Newark consists of works that all contain the element of light and features the artists Stanley Casselman, Andrew Demirjian, Sunil Garg, Jain Kwak, Greg Leshé, Ryan Roa, Christine S. Romanell, Carol Salmanson, USCO, and Eric Valosin.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the exhibition was that the artworks were the main sources of light in an otherwise dark gallery space. Once the novelty of this setting wore off a bit I started appreciating how charming this exhibition actually was. There were pieces that incorporated Christmas lights, videos projected on walls, brightly colored, under-lit plastic tubes, and even a TV bra. I momentarily flashed back to a 1990s rave and found myself missing my large, rubber, strobe light, heart-shaped rings. The darkness in the gallery was intermittently interrupted by the light of the artworks, which created an atmosphere that was somehow both welcoming and isolating. I found myself engrossed in each piece and wondering at how fascinating light actually was.
Several of the pieces were interactive and they were the ones I found most intriguing. Sine on the Dotted Line… a piece by USCO, an artist collective, consisted of an old oscilloscope, which looks like an old, box-style TV, except this machine allows for the observation of electric voltages. That information was observable via a hypnotic, glowing green dot undulating around a dark, gridded screen leaving a trail of green light behind it like a comet. There was a knob below the screen that the viewer/participant could turn and make the dot fly around quicker or slower. I could not help being reminded of the game Pong. If nothing else, this is a reminder of what a long way technology has come in a short amount of time and of how much I miss the simpler days when playing Pong was all the rage.
Another notable work was Sunil Garg’s She Comes in Colors. The piece was composed of LED lit tubes that intertwine in large loops and slowly change colors. When I walked up the artist offered a variety of tinted glasses to view the piece through. Each pair of glasses changed the color of the glowing tubes. It was interesting to observe the way an entire environment can change by wearing variously tinted glasses. What was unexpected was that this also caused a feeling of isolation. As I viewed the sculpture through the glasses I soon became aware that I was seeing something different than everyone else was. The glasses created an experience of separation between me and everyone else who was viewing the piece.
This show is a must see, filled with talented artists working in unique media. It will make you ponder over the science of light, the social ambience that light and dark can create, the technological advances that are coming at you a mile a minute, and it may also make you nostalgic for 90s raves and Pong.
The Particle and the Wave was curated by Wavelength, a collaborative project by Gianluca Bianchino and Jeanne Brasile and is on view until July 15, 2016. There will be a closing reception on Friday, July 15, 6-8pm in addition to open Thursdays, 6-9pm.
Index Art Center was established in May 2009 by three of Redsaw Art’s former founders; Lowell Craig, Seth Goodwin, and DC Smith. Their mission is to help strengthen and revitalize Newark’s emerging art scene. They wish to create an environment where the local community and artists of all media can come together and take part in a unique dialogue, one that affirms Newark as a center for contemporary art.
Index Art Center is located at 237 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey.