Lumia Exhibition at the State Library

Lumia: art | light | motion

I’ve really wanted to see the exhibition “Lumia: art | light | motion” at the State Library of Queensland since I saw it advertised at a bus stop and because we had another long weekend it was the perfect opportunity to go check it out. The reason that I was so keen about seeing it was that one of the creators, Gavin Sade, was my lecturer for my main course units during university. I had seen lots of his conceptual sketches as well as videos of the final pieces and now I had the chance to actually go and interact with these projects and test them out for myself.

Me behind Sign
Outside the Exhibition

We weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the exhibition so the pictures/videos/quotes are from the Kuuki website.

The first thing we checked out and the e. Menura Superba – also know as Ernie Superb on facebook – which is described as
“an interactive artwork that explores the paradox between our fascination with the exotic, and our potentially dystopic future devoid of many animal species”.

I was looking forward to this one the most but unfortunately the time I spend with Ernie on the day was a little disappointing. For starters, I couldn’t get close to it because one of those damn beepers was sitting at the base, and the exhibition attendant told us we had to stand a good metre back. I felt this really broke the interactive connection for me and while I understand why they may have done this, I couldn’t have the experience that others seem to have with the work (pictures below).

People Close to the Exhibition
Why couldn’t we get this close?
Person near exhibit
There were also no screens in his tail as seen in this picture. I wonder why they were removed

By standing back, we were now more in the darkness (most of the room was dark apart from selective light sources) and since Ernie uses tracking and face recognition, this seemed to hinder us, however we were wearing dark clothes which wasn’t helping either. The state library had some brightly coloured scarfs that you could use to get Ernie’s attention and the attendant told us that we had to hold the full scarf out in front of us . Even when we did this I couldn’t really see the work focusing on that, he just kept looking around. I did notice though that when he looked on my friend who was holding out the red scarf, his plumage changed to red as well, so at least we were getting some responses. Overall I found that my experience with Ernie didn’t live up to my expectations, but I like to think that in another venue with better lighting and no beepers I would’ve liked Ernie and spent a lot more time interacting with him.

Flower Animals is a simple interactive work that uses real time data to illuminate felt coral sculptures according to sea temperatures changes from Heron Reef, one of 2,900 reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef. The colours “[range] from cool hues, through warm tones to bright white when temperatures exceed those that tropical corals are able to tolerate over sustained periods.”

Flower Animals
Flower Animals

We interacted with the sculptures by leaning in close and moving our hands above the table. We did hear sounds however it was a little drowned out in the environment because of the next work.

Distracted was another of the interactive projects I was looking forward to trying out. When you move yours hands (or I guess any part of your body for that matter) close to the work, it will light up as shown in the video. I’m not sure why but the work seemed to not respond to me but it responded to my friend, I guess I had bad feng shui or something that day :P.


I think the Distracted exhibit is best summarised with the below:

“The illumination will vary in colour, intensity and frequency of illumination to generate visualisations of ice-core sample data, coral reef growth patterns, and sea and air temperature records at specified intervals. This data has been selected because it forms a record of the planet’s history, represents long periods of time, and provides a context for understanding human presence and impact on the planet.”

When we first walked into the exhibition, the sound from Distracted was very quiet with just gentle pops and minor sounds here and there. However, as we were walking through the sound got louder and the lights began illuminating more rapidly. I realised at the bottom of the work there was a display, showing what year the data currently been visualised is from. I bet you can guess which time period was the loudest!

Charmed is a cute little interactive work where you move and touch the screen to interact with an animated virtual world. You can move the ‘pods’ side to side and back and forth to move around and zoom in and out of the virtual world. You can also touch the screens to interact with the environments as well. For example on one pod, I found that pressing on the trees cut them down while pressing the little houses repeatedly caused them to turn into large buildings.

Charmed Interactive Work

The last work in the exhibition was Suzumushi: The Silent Swarm. These mechanical crickets were over a wall and on a small low table. The interaction with these little creatures was confusing as we tried talking to them and blowing on their tails as suggested in the explanation on the wall but nothing seemed to happen. There was also a screen that had ‘talk to the crickets’ where you could type a message, which we thought ‘oh maybe that’s it!’ but this also didn’t work (or at least from what we could see). Were they supposed to be directly interacted with or not?

Silent Swarm
Suzumushi: The Silent Swarm
Silent Swarm
Suzumushi: The Silent Swarm

Reading over the explanation again on the site, I realise we were looking for the wrong thing, I just wish there had been some more clues.

It sounds like I’ve been pretty critical but I still think this is a great exhibition to go and see. These were just the hiccups that happened to us on the day and I think the works would be more engaging if I went back again now that I went back again, now that I have re-read all of the artist statements, explanations and the catalogue. Overall I thought the works were clever and fun to interact with and and their themes how our contemporary lifestyles have impacted our environment were very clear.

The exhibition runs till the 5th of June 2011 so get down there and check it out. I highly recommend getting the exhibition catalogue as well, there’s a great Q&A at the back with the creators of the interactive works.

If you do go, let me know your thoughts!

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