Borrowed Light

Barbican Centre, London

5 June 2018 – May 2019

In the atrium of the Barbican, the Londonian brutalist icon, a suspended mechanised structure slowly moves a 24m-long scroll of traditional DIA positive film in an endless loop. The layering and superposition that is created by the spatial separation of the front and back of the film loop creates an array of slowly shifting composite colour fields. The film here acts as filter that changes reality rather than recording it.

The mechanical construction of the film scroll emulates an 18th century circular panorama, one of the first transformative technologies and manifestations of immersive media that enabled something to happen at the boundary between mind and body to reproduce a spatial experiences of and in spaces that do not physically exist.

These panoramas often depicted grand scenes of nature and made the sublime accessible to every person by becoming an everyday commodity and backdrop for a new form of social interaction. Redefining the sublime to incorporate the material this novel technology enabled for physical interfaces to melt away, for worlds to converge and for the real world to disappear. 

The choice of using analogue film betrays Troikas interest in media archaeology and tracing the cultural, material, and discursive history of technologies whose role it is to effectively double, alter, recompose and edit reality and the duration of things in the world. 

In the same fashion as traditional DIA slides are produced, the colour gradient on the film is achieved by the three-color principle through exposing the photographic emulsion of the transparent film to red, green and blue coloured light to bring out an image, here the colour gradient.

Kiki Mazzuchelli, ‘Borrowed Light’