Monthly Archives: November 2012

Oh, The Places You (won’t) Go!

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Centre Georges Pompidou.

Centre Pompidou houses a vast public library, the National Museum of Modern Art, and a centre for music and acoustic research. The architecture is very cold and industrial as opposed to the brightly colored tubes that transform this museum from an elitist monument into a popular space for social and cultural exchange. This fresh approach is appropriated into the signage, which uses brightly colored LED light that is reminiscent of circus and carnival lighting.

By using the visual language of entertainment, it completely transforms the space and our experience with that space. We no longer have a static or passive relationship where we are simply fed information; rather it becomes an interactive space of entertainment. It is also interesting to imagine stepping into this place for the first time and being confronted with these light installations. Our first attempt is to contextually familiarize these codes and since our immediate link is that of the field of pleasure, we will subconsciously carry these sensations as we walk through the space. This is further instigated by the high positioning of the installations and their large scale which all add to this experience of the spectacular. The way it guides us by forcing our perception upwards mirrors our reaction to the sublime, which is an element exploited by the field of entertainment. This is perhaps one of the reasons why light is used so excessively because it has the ability to create this feeling of awe not necessarily through physical grandeur but through its imposingly ephemeral presence.

This is particularly relevant in this case, where the presence of the installations re-define our understanding of a museum. It is no longer a space where the masses are spoken down to; rather it becomes an entrance to a world of play. A world where carnivalesque sentiments are not only appropriate but also encouraged. This is interesting because these sentiments are usually attributed to nightlife and the fantastical aura that aids it. However, with this rupture in convention, space, is not only challenged, but also time. It is as if these artificial light installations are declaring the irrelevancy of day and night, since both are momentarily replaced within this museum. A replacement that is evident in the promise of whimsical space that is occupied during the day but borrows its visual language from the night.

Another interesting element is the illuminated content, which is essentially informational, whether linguistic or iconic. This places the content on a pedestal since our navigational ability is completely dependent on its representation. However, in the carnivalesque context the lighting is merely aesthetic, an entertainment for the eyes. Therefore, its integration into the field of guidance poses the possibility of a higher form of entertainment; one that satisfies the eye while simultaneously feeding the mind.

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