The natural and the urban collide in an abandoned Russian factory full of lights.
An abandoned factory becomes a living organism with only the use of lights and sound in Epicenter, a collaboration between Russian light artists Tundra and Sila Sveta. This project was a spontaneous idea that arose during work for a popular Moscow techno club temporarily housed in the Trekhgornaya Manufactury, a now empty space of urban decay described as "the most powerful textile enterprise of the Soviet Union” once upon a time.
Seeing the space early in the morning reminded Sila Sveta of “a morning forest,” “because of the standing concrete pillars throwing long shadows. Interested in other artists’ interpretations of the space, they invited the St. Petersburg-based group Tundra to create a large-scale installation. Sila Sveta says the project is ultimately “an attempt to transform an artificial space into a world of living matter.”
Each group created an installation that places the viewer in the “epicenter of borderless creativity.” Tundra’s piece, Halo, creates eerie scenes such as a lightning storm and a fire, playing with space and criss-crossing beams of light. A figure weaves in and out of the beams, getting closer and closer but ultimately disappearing into the darkness. The soundtrack consists of choral music overlaid with what sounds like either rain or a scorching forest.
“You are not enjoying a piece of art, you are not being entertained by a big-scale installation and are not watching a light show,” says Tundra. “You are an unwanted witness of an unknown lighting phenomena.” In describing the feeling of the space, they explain: “The entire space was vast and a visitor couldn’t see where it ends. One could overlook the limitations of the venue and feel suspended in the seemingly infinite light and sound patterns. The installation was born within the venue and solely there.”
Sila Sveta’s piece, Phantom, uses mostly bright white light to create a sense of urgency and fast movement. Strobe-style lighting localized around the space confuses the viewer’s sense of center and leaves one disoriented and excited. The space seamlessly transforms into a dance club, a wet underground cave, a crisply choreographed forest, and a blinding corridor of light.
For them, “the viewer enters into a totally immersive and unfamiliar and dark space. His feelings are tuned... he is trying to understand what is waiting for him, but the picture of the world is changing with light and sound.” It was important to them to answer the question: “is it possible in an urban interior, using only lights and sound, [to] convey a sense of contact with a living organism, without resorting to specific visual images?”
See Epicenter in action below: