Beam Me Up

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It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Huub Ubbens’ poetic light installation “sottovoce”! Created with four big, matte-black cones that offer protection to one person, the project (which looks very much like some sort of new age spaceship) approaches light in a conceptual way, expressing its beauty, role in everyday life, and importance as an inspiration for visual and literary arts.

Ubbens, a Dutch designer based in Milan and Montpellier, conceived the poetic light installation “sottovoce” inside the Public Gardens Indro Montanelli during the LED Light Exhibition Design 2010 in Milan.

While hiding in the dark cavernous space, spectators listen to Italian actors recite analytical essays, written by five illustrious authors, that loop every 20 minutes. The intimate darkness inside the cones, where the texts are diffused, emphasizes the meaning of the words and creates the ideal atmosphere to concentrate on the authors’ monologues and let imagination run free.

“Sometimes these stories about light are so delightful to exceed in beauty the original source of inspiration,” Ubbens says. “Maybe, reading or listening to these stories on light we are able to imagine silent places and magic atmospheres and really see and perceive what we normally take for granted in our everyday life.”

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The five essays–“In Praise of Shadows” (by Junichiro Tanazaki), “De Umbris Idearum” (by Giordano Bruno), “Light” (by Ettore Sottsass), and an interaction of two voices reading fragments from “Light in its Artistic Manifestations” (by Hans Sedlmayr) and “Light of Things” (by Antonella Anedda)–approach the thread in different ways, concentrating on the dark that generates light or starting with reflections on light to end with the dark. The five authors represented in “sottovoce” propose a reflection – anthropological, poetical, metaphysical and historical – on the culture of light in men’s life: its variety and beauty, the importance of the dark, the symbolism of light and its relationship with the human being.

–Lindsey Collier

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