Helen Mac Mahon
WALL - UNTITLED (2017)
Concrete, optical fibres, timber, light.
Dimensions H200cm W300cm D15cm
The Wall was a sculptural installation exhibited in MART Gallery Dublin as part of Transmission. Curated by Matthew Nevin and Ciara Scanlan Transmission was a two person show with Sofie Loscher.
Wall - Untitled consisted of a concrete wall made of blocks that I made by hand and embedded with optical fibres to facilitate the passage of light through the wall.
A number of themes were explored in this work. Primarily I was looking at everyday materials and elements that we trust absolutely and that shape our physical and psychological experience of the world. I was seeking ways of how those elements might be manipulated to defy our expectations of them. I chose to explore concrete glass, light and sound.
The optical fibres in the blocks allowed the passage of light through them and a video piece called Spectra was projected on the rear of the wall (It can be seen coming through the blocks in the accompanying photographs). This video used cymatic imagery* I commissioned from acoustic physicist John Stuart Reid to allow the viewer to see sound and hear colour. The seven notes being played to create the cymatic imagery are the notes Isaac Newton assigned to the seven colours that he named in the spectrum. When a visitor to the gallery space passed through the light beam of the projector their shadow was visible from the other side and they physically became part of the artwork.
The wall also referred to the absurdity of the threat of the construction of the US-Mexico border wall. Optical fibres such as those embedded in the exhibited wall are responsible for the mass transmission of information and communication in the modern world and in many ways have removed much of the power of these physical obstacles.
*Cymatics is the study of wave phenomena, especially sound, and their visual representations.
IInstallation view from Transmission in MART Gallery, Dublin. Image Hyegeun Woo - Lumens Photography.
Still from the video Spectra projected on the rear of the wall.