Anne Hamilton – The event of a thread

The Anne Hamiton exhibition at the Armory was like been transported into a living dream.  The installation  ‘ The event of a thread’ transformed the interior space of the Armouries halls to create an integrated, interactive experience that referenced the buildings architecture. The installation created an immersive environment that multisensory experience, utilizing lighting, sound, live readings, performance and visitor interaction. The piece encouraged participants to interact with the installation and experience the singular and collective body.


The installation was centered around a giant white silky curtain that was lifted 1meter of the ground to divide the space. The curtain was connected to more then 20 double width wooden swings suspended from the rafters by giant chains on either side of the divide. Each swing was set up in a pair, so that there combined motion would effect the curtains movement. On the swing you could feel the push and pull from your connected partner, but rarely see them.


The lighting of the space was immaculate. It was projected from very high up, so that the source was hard to pinpoint. The effect of this was that the floor looked to be magically illuminated. The lighting highlights the swings location with perfect rectangles and illuminated the typewriting stations at either end of the hall with giant spotlights. The white curtain was lit seamlessly to help emphasize its movement. There was a circular mirror located at the far station, which was connected to one of the swings. When it swung in a certain direction it would reflect a specific beam of light, back over the installation.

Light Source and Baffles?

Last night when we were meeting (see Yungbin’s post) there was discussion of how to model the viewing bodies with light.  Patricia envisioned baffles that will help contain the light between sections of viewing along the wall.  I think this would be a helpful way to possible hide light sources above, to the side, and below the viewer.  This creates opportunities to light different parts of one side’s viewer versus different parts of the other side’s viewer.  (See posted illustrations)

However, there was also talk of creating a more simple, clean, and (potentially) powerful lighting mechanics setup where snoots on spotlights would do the work of these baffles, creating extremely specific and narrow beams of light.  We noticed how it was more powerful when light would graze a face only instead of washing a whole body, because we perceive only a glimpse instead of an entire revealed view.  This may be relevant to the Cage piece, which might be equated to a series of discreet chords instead of a continuous symphony.  The power is in the separation, the isolation of parts, and the minimalism.

The Terry Riley and Joshua Light Show

The Joshua light show was a psychedelic manually produced light show that was produced on a flat screen behind the performers. It was originally made by Joshua white in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s. The multilayer projection, uses a variety of manual techniques, such as dripping dies into water and rotating colored glass tubes to create the spectacular effects.  Today’s show takes 10 projectionists to operate it – they all act from behind the screen and are concealed from the audience. The screen is lifted momentarily towards the end of the show to reveal the machines and the projectionists.

Terry Riley is a renowned American composer who is generally associated as been a pioneer of the minimalist movement.  The music he chose to play for the Joshua light show was anything but minimalist. He had tailored his selection of songs to be appropriate for the projections. The music which he performed with his son was multilayer, combination of both syntheses, classical guitar, piano and vocals. I had not expected to here him sing, and in some ways I wish he didn’t. His music was incredible but challenging at time. He played a song called ‘trash aliens’ and that’s what it sounded like.

The show utilized innovative techniques at the time. It creates effects that would be near impossible to recreate digitally. It has a level of depth to it that is not possible with flat digital screens. The depth of the visuals creates a hypnotic effect if your eye holds focus to a spot midway through both the projections.

I found the visuals varied, although still all maintain to a similar brightly saturated, liquid, psychedelic style.  The speed, color, rhythm, depth and projection techniques changed throughout the set and were matched perfectly to the feeling and rhythm of the music Terry Riley was playing. Some songs became quite psychotic and challenging aurally and in keeping with this experience the visual would also build up to a rapid point of explosion.

The entire experience could be likened to an acid trip. I felt like I was taken on a journey that was outside of myself and when I came back down and was spat out into the New York streetscape, the city seemed dull by comparison.