Destructive Observation Field 2014

Multicolor Laser Installation Designed by Robert Henke

Installation at Le Fresnoy, Studio national d'arts contemporains, Lille, France as well as at Kunstwerke KW Institute of Contemporary Art Berlin, Germany


A bright multicolor laser beam points at a black reflective sheet of plastic hanging freely from the ceiling. Most of the light is absorbed by the plate, turned into heat. A small part is reflected to a white screen on the opposite side of the room. The heat creates deformations and induces structural changes of the surface of the plate, which leads to dynamic and complex reflection patterns. The laser beam scans over the surface of the plate in slow random movements and leaves traces of destruction. The light patterns on the projection screen make the process visible.

The same technique that creates these spatial decompositions of light also destroys them when the process is repeated too often. There is no strict separation between 'writing' changes to the plate or 'reading' the deformation. The observation process is destructive.

By adding more and more imperfections to the surface of the plastic plate, the resulting patterns become increasingly more interesting until a certain threshold is reached after which the process seems to reverse. More destruction leads to less interesting results, ending ultimately after a long time with just a diffuse reflection of light. The installation becomes blind.

Photos © A.-K. Scheidegger

Installed laser system: 1 Full color laser projector PHAENON X Pro: Type ROGB 15500

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