1 2 3 4 5

INTERVIEW WITH LINDA JASMIN MAYER

What interested you about working with light?

I was interested in researching light, in looking at it in a new way. I realized how important light is: it has such a major impact on how we look at things, what we focus on. In a way, it guides us.

How did you approach the project?

I spent a lot of time thinking and reading about light. I was particularly impressed by the way artificial light changed the rhythm of the work day. You used to only be able to work when it was light out. After the invention of artificial light, the rhythm of day and night, work and rest, changed drastically. So my approach was to try and get a better understanding of what light is and what it means to people. Then I started keeping an eye out for a place in Copenhagen that was relatively dark; and out of all the places
that I looked at, the former shipyard was the one that impressed me the most. I entered into an intense dialogue with the space, trying to get at its essence. Context is always a very important part of my artistic process.

The project was realized in collaboration with the platform ewoLAB. What was it like working with a company?

The whole collaboration was an important learning process for me. It was a meeting of minds. I got professional assistance every step of the way, but I also had to work within certain boundaries. Working alone, you have more freedom to make your own decisions, of course, but the collaboration exposed me to different strategies and ways of realizing things that I wouldn‘t have come up with on my own. There were also two totally different ways of structuring the work day. I don‘t have a fixed schedule, which means that sometimes I‘ll work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and other times from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next morning. It was interesting to see those two different realities.

You worked with automatically controlled lighting for this project. Besides the artistic content, can you tell me a little bit about how you developed the technical side of the piece?

My experience was that, despite all the ways we had of making things work, there were still a lot of boundaries in terms of what was possible—the realization of an idea was often far more complex than I expected. The technology took on a life of its own, or at least that‘s how it seemed to me. By collaborating with a company, having it take care of the technical realization of the project, I lost a certain amount of control. I passed on the things that I couldn‘t do myself. That was a completely new experience for me. I‘m used to doing everything I can myself, up until the very last moment. But past a certain level of technical complexity you have to rely on others. I believe that both worlds have a lot to gain from that experience.

What was your experience of the process?

Working with light was new for me, and the project‘s development was completely open-ended. So it was great that they had such trust and confidence in me. They were willing to get involved in the process, without having any idea at the beginning what the installation would end up being...

How did the project turn out?

The basic idea was that the viewer would be walking beneath a light that suddenly turns off; he or she stops and pauses and asks, What‘s going on here? Then a light turns on somewhere else and the viewer wonders, Why should I look over there? It was important to me to momentarily call into question the direct path and the lighting that guides us down it. I wanted to point to other possible paths, possible directions. What really surprised me, though, was that many people simply kept walking and didn‘t react to the change in their field of vision. Apparently, many people barely notice their immediate environment. Another aspect was that everything became a part of the installation: the city at night, other lights that turned on and off...the installation itself became a part of the environment.

Photography: Linda Jasmin Mayer