Kaneko: The Science of Light

Hidden behind a modern library downtown, the Kaneko art gallery looks unassuming, but don’t be fooled by this façade: what hides inside is spectacular. The exhibits featured are alien, yet based on something as earthly as science.  Upon entering, visitors will be met with an ominous droning tone that feels as if it’s coming from some distant place. Passing a few smaller pieces, each radiating their own energies, you descend on a red and green lit ramp, the complementary colors reflecting on their opposite walls. Moving towards the tone, you find yourself at the far end of the building in a cavernous room. It is the source of the noise, but what had once seemed ominous, has melded into an equalizer, bringing a calm hum over the room. The room is dimly lit except for the central piece: a dozen or so three-dimensional shapes hanging from the ceiling. Some intertwine and others stand alone, but all are wrapped in sections of intentionally-placed lights and mirrors. Structures are reflected in the mirrors of their neighboring shapes, and light pulsates, changing color and tone as if the collective group were a singular unit. Combined with the low, continuous rumble of the room, the art piece gives the impression of being a living, breathing, cohesive organism.

Designed by Circus Family, this “interactive audiovisual experience” named TRIPH creates a new way of experiencing a story. The other rooms contain pieces that, while they may not be as commanding as TRIPH, stay true to the theme of the exhibit: light. One of these is Mini DIOCLES, a miniature version of the DIOCLES laser used in extreme light research.  Light passes through a sapphire crystal and is focused by a parabolic reflector into a fluorescent fluid, this creates a powerful, mesmerizing light beam.

Another member of the light exhibit is the Rainbow Mirror. In science, it is used in light research to shorten the laser pulse duration and increase light intensity. In the exhibit, a gold-coated grating is used to create beams of rainbow-colored light spanning the sheet. This all happens in the confines of a glass box. The effect is captivating to all those who experience it, but in different ways.

“People that come in also have different energies which react with the space” said a gallery attendant.  If you have visited Kaneko’s latest exhibit, you will understand what the employee was talking about. Kaneko turns light from being something we take for granted, into a totally new experience. It will change your perspective about what we perceive — or what we think we perceive –- on a daily basis. The marriage of science and art creates something wholly unexpected.  Kaneko teaches us to appreciate what we have, while we have it. Rather than ignore the things that surround you; the things that make up your life, use them as tools, and treasure their value. Maybe even make some art.


story by elliot evans, photos by anna greene and kyndall goodwin

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