Flavin Institute visit

So I went two weeks late because I was sick the weekend of the class visit. I’m assuming everyone else had a giant milkshake at the Candy Kitchen after seeing the exhibit too?

Form: Housed on the second floor of a former church and firehouse, a large open room has been partitioned with walls that don’t reach the ceiling, allowing colors to be seen upon entry to the instillation. Colored fluorescent tubes are Flavin’s medium. He uses them to create vertical planes or vectors and color fields. Sometimes there is a solid wall of lights, sometimes they overlay each other like a zoom-in close up of woven fabric. The orientation of the lights, tightly packed or more sparse within a room seems to reinforce the color field effect he’s created. Sometimes it has the effect of walking into an electrified perspective drawing.

 Space / Time: Space and time are very important in this instillation. I didn’t quite realize that until I’d gone around a few times. In particular, a piece that at first is very green, after several minutes goes completely white, which is pretty cool.

Optical Response: Immediately after spending more than a few minutes with the pieces, I began to feel quite visually overpowered by the lights. Like suddenly I might know what it’s like to be a fly that zooms into the light bulb. At first the colors are pretty, pleasing in a sort of soft pastel way, especially the nice glow they cast on the white walls of the main room. But the more you keep looking at the colors, the more they intensify and your eyes begin to play tricks on you, seeing vibrations and waves, a sort of pulsing intensity. Once you experience the green piece, which after a time your eyes adjust to white, it starts to feel really inundating and intense on your eyes.Even though it’s fun and trippy that your eyes adjust to the color, you can also feel that they must be straining somehow.

Emotional Response: I really enjoyed the show. At first on a more surface level, the colors were pretty, the tones cast on the exterior walls were really pretty. But then I was impressed and absorbed by the intensity of the instillation with time. By the time I was ready to leave, I actually felt quite exhausted by it, like my body had physically been through sometime. I enjoyed it, but I was also ready to get back out into the natural light.

Records + Representations: the representation in photos is so fun to make and then it crazy too see white, take a photo and there is the green that disappeared. The only other time I’ve taken photos of a Flavin piece, I thought the photo actually enhanced the piece, that it wasn’t that strong or vibrant in person. But this time, though the photos I took are really cool, the pieces themselves were actually much more intense and overpowering than a photo could communicate. In terms of the few drawings of his that were there, I just see them as structural documents, very clear ones. But not as anything meant to capture or convey the quality of the piece.

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