Art installations are now a very popular trend; here’s how they were originally created.
If you love to visit new exhibits at a museum or attend swanky art events, then perhaps you've come across these intriguing artistic assemblies where hypnotizing sculptures are dotted across colorful rooms and the building's exterior shines with UV light. All these elements are part of an emerging art movement that was born from the digital era we live in. These quirky exhibitions express our internal thoughts and beliefs through the fluid powers of technology. Some artists are experts at creating these immersive experiences. The first one that comes to mind is Yayoi Kusama and her infinity exhibits where red dots abound and galaxies are created with a few twinkling lights and well-placed mirrors. Kusama's work and that of other installation artists now live happily in our Instagram feeds, but as we pose next to the polka dot phallic figurines, we sort of forget why we were there in the first place.
These three dimensional art exhibits change our perceptions and awaken dormant emotions, from love and hate to disgust and confusion. It is time-consuming to create these exhibits, and the results are astounding. So, it's no wonder that photographers and lovers of light effects gravitate towards them. Installations like the ones showcased in these images have a very particular origin. The pioneers behind these works took a page from the theater and the performing arts; they wanted spectators to lose themselves inside the art itself. They are far more dynamic than a regular exhibit, and all the elements like the lights, sounds, and textures have a role to play, inviting the audience to be part of something new and exciting.
This innovative trend can be traced back to the avant-garde Dadaist movement, which was the first conceptual art form that confronted the audience rather than pleasing it. Deconstructing social norms and rigid beliefs allowed artists back in the twentieth century to explore new forms of self-expression. Neo-Dadaist artist Yves Klein was a pioneer who actively curated the environment. For example, The Void (1958) was one of his most popular pieces, featuring a white empty room. Klein’s purpose was to create a space that could be considered an object worthy of artistic attention.
Soon enough, these installations were embraced by other disciplines. New York’s American Museum of Natural History was one of the first cultural institutions to include these immersive installations, and in 1955 Disney came up with its Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative branch responsible for bringing art and science together to turn dreams and fantasy into reality. Oddly enough these creations weren't called "installations" until the seventies, which was the perfect decade to experiment and break the boundaries of creativity.
These spaces absorb the viewer, and artists are well aware of the effects they have on the audience, which is why they strive to create even more complex and unconventional installations. One of the best examples that comes to mind is Bruce Nauman's claustrophobic work, where he would create cramped rooms and corridors, making his viewer feel abandoned and forgotten. Art is not confined to a canvas or a photograph; it is a living, breathing space that we inhabit on a daily basis.
Museums and art galleries are not the only places where you can experience these installations. Now they can be found in spaces like music festivals. The Day For Night Festival is a place that combines amazing line ups and mesmerizing installations that blow your mind.
I have to say that Day For Night exhibits are one of a kind: you see disco balls clustered on the ceilings, mystical red, blue, and green rings, and funny visual glitches. By seamlessly incorporating artistic installations in music festivals, I believe it offers this movement a bright and inclusive future. Who knows? Maybe in some years from now art installations will have festivals of their own.
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Photo credits: Liliana Estrada