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AH03_Henryk Weifenbach.jpg

Sophiensæle astutely presents the wonderful physics of „Absolute Helligkeit“


(by Franziska Oehme / ARTiBERLIN / 07.07.2012)


The second part of Naoko Tanaka's shadow trilogy, Absolute Helligkeit, brings shadows to life and, with light, darkness and other shades, uses them to conjure up images of rooms within the spectator.


Naoko Tanaka climbs on a chair, the back of which has replaced two of its legs. This is how she achieves the special angle. She looks into the air above the stage and everyone retains this perspective. The onlooker concentrates intently on this point for a long time, gazing into nothingness. Tanaka puts her hood up. A rustling noise is heard. She disappears entirely into her black anorak and descends into darkness as all the light fades.


When the light returns, it is timid as the daylight during a solar eclipse. And it is being restrained. At the end of a long fishing rod the artist holds a

light bulb. Slowly, she begins to circle it over her head. In front of the finger-tip sized light bulb hangs a small, round disc. On the opposite wall, a round shadow, outlined by a thin ring of light, is created by the bulb, mimicking a total solar eclipse. This is merely the beginning of the effects in this play of light and shadows, as the stray light at the sides of the small lamp also illuminates the room. Underneath the path of the orbiting light bulb the imposing silhouettes of standing and floating drawers can be seen; they probably belong to the large desk set at the front of the stage, in the middle of the circle of drawers. The closer the tiny bulb comes to the drawers, the clearer their outlines become in the scattered light. 

And when the little glow-worm penetrates the cracks and openings of the drawers, the shadows of film strips, rods and threads which lie in them, 

are hung and arranged in them, create an eerily large network of passageways and grids on the walls. It seems as though the swinging light pushes us through this network. Yet, not only us, but sounds also move in this shadow world along with the light. Wind and rain, the rush of motorcades, the cutting of scissors and papers being flicked; in each drawer another noise can be heard. Everything reminds us of the background noise at a desk which stands next to an open window. Like the movements of the light, the noises swell and ebb away and find their own place in this grotesque world of shadows. The noises acquire a life of their own. They become infected with the shadow themes and develop their own histories. They feedback into the piece, acting as an immediate stimulus for light movements that in turn showcase new realms of shadows. The noise of someone flicking through paper strums the strings of imagery that gives the sound a spatial aspect. This is the wondrous imagery created by our brain. 


Naoko Tanaka's image-noise-movement-machine astonishingly resembles the phenomenon of thought. And this insight accompanies the shadow images through the room in the circular light, intangible but clearly there, at the limit of the logically understandable. Suddenly science seems to once again be connected to that which is incomprehensible to our senses. Beyond this point lies the wonder of very early science and the spectator draws level with the human being in the absolute brightness, as a trembling, vibrant body of a participation-membrane. Naoko Tanaka's epistemological linkage between science and art offers a perfect way of exploring it.

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