Zee: Don’t Panic

I held tightly to the rope with one hand while with the other I pulled my shirt over my face. The smoke was making me cough, and I could hear others around me coughing too. I couldn’t see them through the thick fog. I noticed how it changed and brightened into yellow. I held the rope tighter because I couldn’t see anything except a blinding kaleidoscope of slowly shifting light colors. As the waiver I had so blithely signed advised, I did not panic. (Luckily nor did I go into an epileptic fit.) When the guides told us we could walk around, I let go of the rope and started walking in slow motion through the colored light that changed in tune with the ambient droning.

If you have ever been on a boat in fog, you can approximate the disorientation this installation, Zee by Kurt Hentschläger, creates. In 10 minute intervals, small groups go into this immersive light and sound experience from which the artist hopes to create a mental landscape. It reminded me very much of Christopher Saunder’s Whitenoise Suite No. 3, left, partially because the performance ended with the same dense orange fog. It successfully unmoores you from your surroundings. Coughing from the smoke is distracting, but overall it plays with perception beautifully. What would be really interesting, and I think meditative, is to experience it for a longer period of time.
While toying with perceptions and light can create a beautiful enviornment, I find this kind of work to lack- how shall I say?- content. Or subject matter. Or a point. To experience an installation like this one is fun, but it is hardly a revelation. We know fog and lights can be manipulated. That larger caveat aside, it is fun, and it is being performed at 3LD Art & Technology Center through November 15.

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