Liminality: Art on the Threshhold

Photo credits: Sophia Wang
In a Different Light
2007
Seyed Alavi
144 soft incandescent light bulbs hang in a spherical 15-foot cluster. Controlled by computer, the lights are programmed to flash on and off in a series of choreographed movements. They may go on and off at random, like sparks, or flicker along a certain path, creating the illusion of a line drawn in space.

This piece is a study of the nature of order and our perception of it. At first glance, the bulbs appear to hang randomly in space. Yet as they go on and off, they make visible particular paths that are otherwise undetectable in the tangle of wires. The lights appear to circle aimlessly, but by “re-membering” their paths, the ethereal form of a sphere "comes to light"—which, like a perfect ball of yarn, is formed by the random wrapping of the light-string.
This display is a simple dramatization of light and dark, reflecting the interplay between order and chaos. On a more fundamental level, the piece explores the idea of perception as well as the relationship between what is seen and that which cannot be seen. Beyond the duality of light and dark lies the reality of the wires’ constant electrical current; beyond the eye’s ability to see exists the latent potential of vision. The ability to see “in a different light” situates the observer in a special place; a liminal threshold, where she can watch the drama played out between light and dark and/or take note of the larger prevailing order behind “the seen.”

About the artist
Seyed Alavi received a BS from San Jose State University and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work engages with the poetics of language and space and their power to shape reality. He has created site-specific installations and public art projects for museums and cities across California, as well as Kochi, Japan, St. Paul, MN, and New York City. He has received grants and residencies from the NEA, the California Arts Council, Art Matters, Inc., The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New Langton Arts, Creative Work Fund, the City of Oakland, the LEF foundation, the Djerassi Foundation, and The Blue Mountain Center, among others.

Visit Seyed Alavi’s website at http://here2day.netwiz.net.