To spice up this syllabus week, check out the “light” exhibit at KANEKO, located in Omaha’s Old Market. The exhibit’s motto, “Open Space for Your Mind,” reflects the exhibits, activities and everything else that fills the creative space. What’s even better — it’s free.
KANEKO, made up of three combined warehouses in the Old Market, opened its first space in 2008 after Jun Kaneko, the internationally famous ceramic artist, purchased and renovated the vacated warehouses, according to thekaneko.org.
Since then, the KANEKO has hosted an array of exhibitions, performances, educational activities and even festivals. Currently, the “light” exhibit has installations all across the first floor and in parts of the second floor of the building.
The exhibit runs Dec. 5 through March 31.
Walking through the doors into the “light” exhibit is a little like falling down the rabbit hole into Alice’s Wonderland. Immediately, everything seems new and foreign, waiting to be absorbed.
The first interactive installation is the “Infinity Room.” Created by Refik Anadol, the immersive room dazzles. With mirrors covering the floor and ceilings, it is required to wear shoe covers, and the artist only allows for visitors to stand in the enclosed room for five minutes.
During such, four projectors around the walls display tantalizing black and white patterns, ranging from starry, disorienting night skies, to sporadic water ripples, to strict horizontal or vertical lines. The movement of patterns never stops, and after a short dizzy spell passes, it forcefully grabs all attention previously lost.
Almost all of the installations in the exhibit are interactive. Next, two pieces from Adam Belt hang, called “Nowhere Pieces.” These two are complete with eye glasses rigged with flashlights that affect the contours of the 3-D hanging landscapes when switched on and off.
One of the larger exhibits, titled “TRIPH,”fills an entire warehouse-sized room on the first floor. Created by the Circus Family, “TRIPH” is one of the more breathtaking experiences in light.
Massive beams covered with LED lights change colors in response to movement, giving the inanimate installation personality. Brooding music plays when the room is empty like it’s sleeping in a futuristic dystopia, and then changes to bright colors and cheery music as if the art was waking up and saying “hello.”
Upstairs stands an equally spectacular exhibit, “Blumen Lumens” made by San Francisco art collective FoldHaus.
The 10 origami flowers stand 20 feet tall, each made by corrugated polypropylene hand-folded and welded together. The installation made an appearance at the Burning Man event in Black Rock City, an event surrounding a makeshift city in the middle of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert made by thousands of participants. When walked under, the flower buds expanded and contracted in response to movement. A now-private owner has turned off this feature for the “light” exhibit.
Next to “Blumen Lumens,” Taylor Dean Harrison’s “Enunciation” contrasts the expansive flowers as an enclosed light sculpture. The hut-like structure is composed of steel, wood, found objects and light. The interior is lit with thousands of color-changing LED lights.
“Enunciation” was also featured at Burning Man 2016 and was an honorarium grant recipient, a grant given to partially fund art projects for Burning Man. Harrison’s focus is on creating spaces and objects for contemplation and meditation, according to the gallery description.
Apart from the installations, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extreme Light Laboratory has light experiments and videos set up to show what they do in their labs. The high-power laser science lab is located at UNL and currently holds the world record for the highest light intensity ever produced on earth, one billion times more intense than light at the surface of the sun, according to its website, https://www.unl.edu/diocles/home.
The “light” exhibit is worth the trip up to Omaha for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the entrancing world of light-based art.