Thursday, 15 March 2012

Yvette Mattern
'Global Rainbow'
March 2012
    My work, if 'messing about with your mates and being paid for it' counts as such, is installing art. The North East has been full of it of late, parts of which will form future posts, but by far the most spectacular, which I had no part of, is this work by
Yvette Mattern. It is the first of event of the 'Cultural Olympiad' 2012

    The premise is deceptively simple. Take some powerful lasers in the colours of the rainbow and project them across the night sky. Easy.

     But the result is something way beyond what that the above implies.

We visited the piece on March 1st, jouneying to the site where the lasers where situated - a car-park just north of Whitley Bay (no doubt much to the chagrin of the doggers with whom it is a popular spot)-  joining in the process a huge tailback of traffic that stretched some five miles from Tynemouth.

     At its point of origin the lasers are projecting a beam approximately two inches wide, but as the atmosphere takes over strange things happen. 

    Firstly the beams widen and blur to produce a more 'realistic' effect rainbow effect.

    This in itself depends on your position relative to it; for example the lines become wider the further under (and away) from them you are whereas should you be alongside it the beams are narrow. The range of the piece is also limited by things like water vapour- on the first of the five nights it was projected over Tyneside it was visible some thirty miles away, on night four the photographer Steven Appleby was able to capture it some sixty-two miles from its point of origin. This makes it 'interesting' for funders. There is no love lost between North and South Tyneside councils and it was requested that perhaps the artist could 'stop' the beams before it reached South Tyneside. No-one had the heart to tell them that light just doesn't work like that.

The Rainbow over South Shields. Oops!

    Perspective also pays a part. Directly under it the beams curve in an arc above you whereas straight on the beams appear to recede to a point on the horizon.

     All in all its a stunning piece. I believe Appleby's images are to be found on Facebook (an area of hell I avoid) and there is a group which tells you where the next showings are to be. There is also  a very extensive flickr group
here but nothing beats the real thing...