Tripping the Light Fantastic - Light Show at the Hayward Gallery

Tripping the Light Fantastic – Light Show at the Hayward Gallery

What have you done with your eyes lately? Not that. Come on; they need exercising, delighting, mystifying and mesmerising, don’t they? The Hayward Gallery’s ‘Light Show’, with works by 22 artists including Olafur Eliasson, Leo Villareal and Carlos Cruz-Diez, will take your eyes through an extraordinary workout.

From my initial sighting of Villareal’s dazzling Cylinder II until I emerged from Eliasson’s moving, mysterious and magical Model For A Timeless Garden, I was immersed in a curious world of brilliant tricks of the light.

As I wandered through this trippy example of Art Meeting Science – sometimes backtracking as if to confirm what I thought I’d seen – a childlike curiosity was increasingly awakened with each immersing space or boggling installation.

Amazed at artificial light’s brilliance, my mind rattled off questions. How did they do that? Real or illusionary? Is that a ceiling or a light-beam? Why does David Batchelor’s Magic Hour look best when I’m halfway up the stairs? Are we swaying? Who spiked my coffee? Is that bottomless?

Sometimes it felt as though I was in one of those crazy houses at the fairground; the one with distorted mirrors and wobbly floors. It’s true that, while the installations make our pupils and retinas (it seems) expand, contract, marvel, peer and focus, they also affect our minds and bodies.

As my eyes blinked in natural light again, I thought of the couple who’d often been beside me as I experienced the exhibition. What the heck was their baby making of it all? He was certainly agog, incredibly quiet – and smiling. But then so were the rest of us.

Enjoy your workout.

On until Sunday 28th April 2013.

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