On the Royal Docks in London, a cavernous industrial warehouse thrums and thumps underneath pulsing lights, kaleidoscopic atmospherics, reverberating sounds and alternative contemporary media. Mimicking the sensory cacophony of a nightclub in motion and bringing Thin Air, The Beams' Centre for New Culture’s inaugural exhibition, along with the works of its seven international coeval artists, to life until the 4th of June.
From a film installation envisaged by Seoul-based collective Kimchi and Chips in partnership with Rose Menkman, that captures notions of spectacle, illusion and the semi-material way of living, to a collaborative project by 404. zero duo Kristina Karpysheva and Alexandr Letsius which sees a 26 000-square-foot room electrified by 1,000 beams of light to conjure a series of existential encounters. This is a world imagined by digital artist and curator Alex Czetwertynski in partnership with arts and culture firm That Right There, which comes alive by using, as Czetwertynski illustrates, “technology as material rather than subject matter. The installations are built with media instruments more common in the entertainment and nightlife industries, here used at counter-purpose. In these intricate media, light and sound pieces, ephemeral structures and shapes appear, almost literally, out of thin air.”

What makes Thin Air a world to step into, is not only the fact that it spans over 55,000 square feet of elephantine intertwining environments, guaranteeing endless hours spent interacting with a psychedelic array of domineering works. But the notion that these very installations are borne from their artists taking the traditional elements of technology — light, colour and sound, and using them to envisage altogether contemporary possibilities for the way in which we as their observers interact with digital art both physically and psychologically.

Matthew Schreiber’s Banshee (2023) for instance, sees lasers criss-cross the room in an atmospheric mist, creating geometric patterns which adapt as viewers traverse through the space, whilst James Clar’s Cleanse/Mantra (110 Hz) finds its energy through simulation, ingenuity and contemplation to induce trances and heightened imaginations from its observers. One hundred and ten hertz is recognised as being the ‘human pitch’ that echoes throughout Buddhist and Hindu mantra chants and archaeologists have perceived that the use of the frequency is employed to instigate trance-like states in numerous cultures. This knowledge is reflected and built upon in Clar’s work, through his interest in how the sonorousness of One hundred and ten hertz has the ability to augment the right brain, which is the focal point for art, spirituality, emotion and imagination.

There are also works, all undeniable must-sees, that reflect The Beams' status as both a growing creative and cultural hub which has hosted musical performers such as Honey Dijon, The Martinez Brothers and Skepta. Robert Henke’s Phosphor is a case in point; the installation changes its behaviour throughout the exhibition by using rays of ultraviolet light to draw fleeting landscapes on a layer of phosphorus dust, alluding to ideas of erosion and mutation. So too, is Set Up’s Borders installation which uses light, architectural design and optical effects to remark on the increasing divergence around the world, and the unstable environments which reveal the unreality of boundaries along with the differences which distinguish us.
You can now visit London's The Beams exhibition titled Thin Air until June 4.
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Kimchi and Chips with Rosa Menkman, Cyclops Retina: Light Barrier 2.4
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Robert Henke, Phosphor
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Matthew Schreiber, Banshee 2023
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404.zero, 3.24