MGM 2005: The Lowry Hits The Lights And Ups The Sounds

By Jade Wright | 02 June 2005
Shows a photograph of a copper cut-out figure, which is casting a shadow on a line drawing of a landscape.

Phantasmagoria - Pandaemonium, Brass Art. © Brass Art. Photo: K Fleige.

Jade Wright went to The Lowry in Salford to see a dazzling installation, which is on show until June 26 2005.

Brass Art have a reputation for filling unconventional spaces with their distinctive brand of extraordinary installations. The trio’s latest venture, commissioned to celebrate the Lowry’s fifth anniversary, continues this tradition in fine style.

Artists Chara Lewis, Anneke Pettican and Kristin Mojsiewicz have packed The Lowry’s Deck space with light and sound, taking the Salford landscape as their inspiration.

Entitled Phantasmagoria, it is a celebration of the city’s skyline, featuring a rotating, panoramic video installation taken from the rooftops. Against this backdrop are positioned a series of real and imaginary figures performing familiar and strange actions.

Shows two photographs of copper cut-out figures set against a rooftop backdrop with blocks of flats and offices in the background.

Phantasmagoria - Brass Art. © Brass Art.

Brass Art’s previous works have involved revolving mirrors, cabinets of curiosities, zoetropes and shadow plays, all seen through a contemporary lens. “We are interested in exploring the rich potential of old and new media," explains Chara Lewis. "Combining a fascination with pre-cinematic optical illusory devices with cutting edge 21st century technologies we mix traditional and contemporary skills."

The group seek to “occupy seemingly inaccessible realms. Central to this is our examination of thresholds or liminal spaces and the gap between public and private experience.”

Phantasmagoria delves into the shadowy worlds of dream and fantasy, while remaining firmly anchored in the real world. The contrast of optical illusion and the Salford landscape takes the audience on a dizzying journey of constant change.

Shows a photograph of a copper cut-out figure, which is casting a shadow on a line drawing of a landscape.

Phantasmagoria - Brass Art. © Brass Art. Photo: K Fleige.

The installation is based on the 19th century fashion for phantasmagoria, spectacular performances using slides and sound. The word itself comes from the obsolete French phantasmagorie, the art of creating supernatural illusions.

Brass Art’s Phantasmagoria reads like an extraordinary sequence of haphazardly associative imagery. Seemingly disconnected elements fuse together to form each fantastical landscape, stretching across the gallery walls and constantly changing as the light dances across its surface.

Shows a photograph of copper cut-out figures set against a rooftop backdrop with blocks of flats and offices in the background.

Phantasmagoria - Brass Art. © Brass Art.

The highlight is the view Lowry himself drew from the top floor of Salford Technical College, populated by copper silhouettes, which shimmer in the light. A specially commissioned score by Matt Wand using the sound of a glass harmonica ensures a sensory feast.

While multimedia installation and performance art may seem like recent phenomena, Brass Art demonstrate that they have precedents in the travelling fairgrounds, halls of mirrors, planetariums and entertainments of the past.

The trio have a gift for turning the mundanities of everyday life into a carnival of feverish dreams, presented with energy, skill and imagination.

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Jade Wright is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance student journalist for the North West region. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Shows the Museums and Galleries Month logo.

Jade is participating in the 24 Hour Museum/ MGM Arts Writing Prize 2005.

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