Stop Making Sense

by 株式会社カウンタック

The detail that struck me regarding Robert Irwin’s wall-sized installation wasn’t, at first, the titular light, but the repeated pattern of fuzzy voids: grey amoebas, where the metal ends of tube-shaped bulbs cap the flow of brilliance. Exceptional moments of darkness. Light’s absence, just as much as its presence, is this artist’s medium; through these subtleties of negative space, Irwin doesn’t so much make sculptures as conditions for sensory experience.

A Southern Californian abstractionist who has, since the 1970s, done exclusively site-specific work, Irwin’s latest, Light and Space (Kraftwerk Berlin) (2021) , is housed in the mammoth building that used to power East Berlin. Now, Kraftwerk – which now holds Tresor, OHM, and the annual Atonal festival, in addition to housing this latest project by the nomadic Light Art Space – is practically purpose-built for getting into altered states. The location’s obvious resonance with electricity amongst other forms of power hard and soft makes it fertile thinking-ground for Irwin’s takeover. Like electricity itself, or the medium that conveys it: Irwin’s work is conducive . Contemporaries like James Turrell and Dan Flavin obviously resonate, but the analogy that sticks is with the opening lines of structural filmmaker Stan Brakhage’s book, Metaphors on Vision:

Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception ... Imagine a world before the beginning was the word.