Ryoji Ikeda, ‘Test Pattern No12’ at 180 The Strand, free.
As you walk into the exhibition at 180 The Strand, you soon realise why you’ve been instructed to remove your shoes. Part of a wider series of similarly immersive works, Ryoji Ikeda’s ‘Test Pattern No12’ encourages visitors to walk over a vast, white canvas while beams of light are projected in binary patterns from above. Accompanied by an intense electronic soundtrack, soothing visual patterns shift into irregular flashes, transforming the dark room into a surreal and disorientating space. I found the experience totally engrossing and, by the looks of all the smiles around the room, so did everyone else. Go early to avoid the queues!
Olafur Eliasson, ‘Room for One Colour’ at the National Gallery, £14-£16.
As the final work in the National Gallery’s recently opened ‘Monochrome: Painting in Black and White’ exhibition, Olafur Eliasson’s 1997 installation explores the show’s theme in an entirely sensory manner. Using a specific type of lightbulb that obliterates the colour spectrum, ‘Room for One Colour’ gives visitors the remarkable experience of seeing only in shades of one colour. As you first enter the room, your brain begins to furiously compute the vivid yellow light, but before long, your entire vision appears in monochrome. Light and shadow become more pronounced and, just like everyone else in the room with you, you start to freak out at the bizarre and fascinating sensation.
While all the other installations here explore the idea of sensory overload, a new work in Haroon Mirza’s current exhibition takes an entirely different approach. Individual visitors are invited to sit or lie down in a small, heavily soundproofed room (or ‘anechoic chamber’) shutting out all light and noise to create a state of sensory deprivation. Experiences within the chamber can vary massively for participants, with some describing hallucinations and others simply enjoying the peace and quiet. For me, five minutes felt like 30 seconds: the complete darkness was weirdly calming and never before have I heard the blood rushing through my ears.
By Aggie Torrance @agathatorrance
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