by Vatsala SethiDec 30, 2022
To illuminate is to see what constitutes the world. Both light and colour are universal human connectors, and if colour raises curiosity, then light is a fundamental human need. An assemblage of both enables people to create an enthralling art experience, bringing wonder and joy. London-based Danish artist Tine Bech endorses these perspectives on light and colour, creating site-specific as well as sculptural installations, letting the viewers experience the unseen. At the core of Bech's art practice lies interactive engagement between art and the audience. The expanse of possibilities made available to the viewers through the interplay of light and colour anchors empathy and compassion—essentials in a world driven towards nonchalance.
In an interview with STIR, Bech dwells deeper into her passion towards interactive installations that facilitate an exploration of human sensory awareness. "My core drive as an artist is to create beautiful and meaningful art experiences that connect people and places, creating positive social participation. Despite living in an age that seems to offer unlimited forms of digital communication, we still fundamentally crave human connection—to belong to a place, to a community. Light connects with us at a sensory level and the beauty of colour pulls us in. That’s why it became my favourite medium to work with," she says.
Her latest art installation, Illuminated Swim, is part of the Bright Nights Festival at Gloucester in the UK, and opens an opportune moment for the audience to dive into a cloud of colour and swim in a “Rothko-like painting” in Bech’s own words. Burrowed in paintings by Rothko to draw inspiration for Illuminated Swim, Bech successfully evokes an immersive experience where a collective mood to play and participate is nurtured. Illuminated Swim as an immersive light installation revamps the swimming pool into an artwork, where participants swim within the floating cloud, on top of the water, filled with light and colour.
Bech recollects how as a child she frequented a swimming pool in Denmark that turned her blond hair into a shade of green due to the presence of chlorine. The indulgence to swim, a move away from the monotony of quotidian existence, served as an inspiration to make Illuminated Swim. The spectrum of light swiftly changes with the movement of the swimmers and the installation is envisioned to recreate a painting-like effect where the audience can dive.
Another installation, Pink Enchantment, allows visitors to walk across the bridge, amidst clouds of colours, creating an “electric and vibrant” ambience. What makes this installation distinct from the rest of her artworks is how the light shifts across a series of interactive sections. Consequently, it gives shape and form to the final bridge at a particular site. “Each bridge looks different, scaled to different sizes in response to the opportunities and limitations presented by the site,” mentions Bech.
Like the sky changes its colour—as the day descends to night and dawn gives way to dusk—the cloud of colours across the bridge also reimagines elements of nature’s transience. Interestingly, the installation activates as and when the visitors take the bridge. The bust of colours is a result of pedestrian interaction with the immersive art. At the time of 'no pedestrian traffic on the bridge' the bridge carries a single colour light.
Shine your Colours, as the title suggests, is a celebration of colours, a multi-faceted artwork that invites visitors to see themselves and the world through the gamut of colours. The installation consists of transparent coloured glass panels. The combination of the brilliance and tactility of the materials creates a social space for reflections, where friends and family can interact. The art installation invites people to discover how colours mix and transform as they move through the space.
Light art installations require acute aesthetic sensibility, technical skill, and execution proficiency, they are an ambitious exercise to undertake. The installation We Believe reaffirmed what technology can achieve in bringing people of different countries together. We Believe was formerly developed for the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 — connecting Aarhus City Hall Tower in Denmark and the Embassy of Denmark in London, the UK. Members of the public, from a control room on the rooftop, could see Aarhus City tower. The live webcam made the Embassy in London visible. In Aarhus, people played with joysticks, pressed the buttons to interact with the audience at the Royal Danish Embassy in London. This creative engagement turned into a soft power to facilitate a European dialogue. Since both Aarhus and London are hometowns to Bech, this installation remains special to her.
Towards the end of the interview, Bech expounds, "Art is a collective, social, experience. That is why I create artworks that focus on participation using colour, technology and our behaviours and social abilities—placing the audience's experience at its centre.”