A trio of gleaming tech gadgets sits invitingly in the middle of Fabrica. Hooked up wirelessly to the main lighting in the gallery, these responsive toys allow visitors to re-invent the space for themselves in ever changing jazzy colours. A microphone translates pitch into hue, volume into intensity. Sing a gentle lullaby and the lights will phase through warming rainbow hues, scream or clap and the lights will momentarily blaze intensely. The second gadget is a dome containing two sensors (again representing hue and brightness), which are reactive to human touch. The third is a wireless ball that can be held or rolled on the floor, translating its own motion into colour and light. These three toys interact with one another too, allowing all three in combination to create different colour and intensity blends in the gallery. To try it is to be enthralled, then addicted.
‘In Colour’ is the work of Peter Hudson, and it’s inspired by the artist’s experiences at Project Art Works in Hastings, an organisation that provides art therapy to people with complex needs such as autism and learning disabilities. The piece plays, both figuratively and literally therefore, upon what Hudson describes as “the spectrum of neurodiversity.” Spending time working with artists and makers with such complex needs, Hudson observed that “their strongest responses occurred when they could see the results of what they did immediately”. He therefore set about creating a piece that would follow that insight almost to its logical conclusion, allowing visitors to be the ones in instant, strong control over the visual ambience of the gallery.
The immediacy of this piece certainly created a buzz when SOURCE visited. We observed gallery-goers sharing a smile with strangers in the space and then interacting with one another. It’s definitely an artwork which breaks the ice and encourages humour and communication. Granted, it’s not particularly deep conceptually – it amuses us for a while yet fails to provoke lasting insights or further reflection after we leave the gallery. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for in some ways it’s part of the artwork’s directly accessible appeal. It’s not a piece to get too hung up on, just a lovely, playful thing which anyone can enjoy.
‘In Colour’, Fabrica, 40 Duke Street Brighton. 8th July – 28th August 2017
Photos by Tom Buckley