Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Cold Light

First Floor Galleries

Cold Light is a new video installation and virtual reality work by Lindsay Seers & Keith Sargent.

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Saturday 22 October 2022

Saturday 22 October 2022 - Sunday 8 January 2023

Turner Contemporary Rendezvous, Margate, Kent CT9 1HG

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Electricity and magnetism are interconnected phenomena and nearly every occurrence in daily activity stems from the electromagnetic force. The eye is powered by electricity. The activity of the human brain has been defined in relation to an electromagnetic field produced by the brain itself. Tesla said we will never understand electricity.

Lindsay Seers

Cold Light is a new video installation and virtual reality work by Lindsay Seers & Keith Sargent. Its title draws on historic references to the first electric light bulbs: no longer reliant on fire for illumination, the new electric lights were referred to as ‘Cold Light.’

The exhibition has been shaped by the artists’ research into the life and work of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) – an inventor, engineer, and futurist whose ideas about using naturally occurring electromagnetic fields to provide energy remain remarkable. Tesla performed scientific experiments theatrically, as a showman, believed in alien life forms and considered himself to be an automaton reacting to internal and external stimuli. Today, he is best known for his contributions to the design of the Alternating Current (AC) electrical system. Cold Light takes its inspiration from Tesla’s visionary revelations in science, his extraordinary consciousness, and his non-normative brain.

Research on these subjects has been sustained over many years and developed through dialogues with scientists including Chris Frith, FRS FBA, Professor Emeritus at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex; Paul Fletcher, Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience, University of Cambridge; and science writer Philip Ball.

…The sense of entering the minds of others is enthralling.

★★★★ – The Guardian

Installed across two galleries, the exhibition includes both physical and virtual environments. In the first space, a virtual reality artwork weaves together images and sound to create a complex, dreamlike experience in which Tesla himself appears in the form of a sculpture. Other references include the science-fiction films Metropolis – the earliest film to feature a robot – and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The multi-layered narrative, voiced by actor Bill Bingham, features Tesla’s own words and incidents from his biography, along with reflections on time, consciousness, and the significance of electro-magnetism in all things. The intensity of imagery in this work relates to the functioning of the brain in certain neurodivergent states, such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and their effect on the visual field.

In the second room, projected images and sculptural elements echo those of the VR environment. You are invited to climb a scaffold tower to survey the fabricated landscape, which includes a moving robot whose appearance draws on popular sci-fi.

Slippages and repetitions weave between the real and the virtual in Cold Light – sculptural and architectural elements recur, rendered and recombined physically and digitally, calling into question distinctions between materiality and representation.

To experience the Virtual Reality (VR) artwork, you must sign up to a timeslot with a member of staff at the entrance of South Gallery.

The experience is designed for up to six visitors to engage with at the same time and runs for approximately 15 minutes.

The experience is not suitable for children under 12. An iPad is available to view the artwork for under 12s or if you would prefer not to experience it through VR.

Cold Light is developed in partnership with Matt’s Gallery and E-WERK Luckenwalde.