Luma review on FluidRadio

Great review on Luma by James Catchpole (@UKStratBoy) for Fluid Radio! You can read it on FluidRadio or here / sorry for this copy paste

at visionsonic

Luma is like an ever shifting cloud, floating in a state of constant motion. As it passes, it leaves behind a fluid trail, like afterimages in our eyes. Gliding slowly in a light transparency as it drifts, it then begins to coalesce, revolving into new forms like the birth of stardust. Like starlight, shining their own afterimages, Luma seems to breathe a fascinating light upon its viewers, and upon sound art in the modern era. It could really be an invitation to view the very birth of our galaxy – or one similar to ours – on a yet to be painted canvas, billions of years in the making.

Luma, it seems, is unparalleled in its fascinating blurring of sound and vision. Illusions of the whitest arctic beauty and the consumptive terror of the night arise and multiply casually outwards from the canvas of the installation, sinking deeply into our eyes with an inhuman purpose; an unknown, shocking entity seeping into our minds as we stand gazing before it. Largely cold and barren, the soundscapes and colours blur with a strange fascination, largely four colours of white, blue, black and purple rising and sinking in a twisted dance. Our trance-like state is effectively a paralysis, and allows the slowly moving colours and drones to immerse us completely. An inviting feeling of anticipation and wonder would surely engulf whoever views the installation, mesmerizing and entirely immersive in its creation, and a refreshing shower for the senses.

Originating out of Rome, Italy, the project is the audio visual realisation of Sladzana Bogeska and Giuseppe Pradella, who have both been experimenting within the area of sound art for seven years up to this point. Their experience and artistic expertise shines down upon Luma. The project seems to carry an astonishingly calm clarity, the slowly forming trails of light and dark blurring over its canvas, flowing over and spilling into eachother in a frozen, momentary stasis, and in the process creating an experimental, uneasy fascination full of beauty. It’s also quite a heavy, uplifting experience. The more you stare deeply into the slowly moving canvas, the more it seems to stare right back at you in an uneasy outpouring. Lines blur, but it is our senses which are also blurred. Luma’s deepest drones mix with stunning, slow moving visuals and creates two very different perceptions, which never neglects one over the other. Over twenty three minutes, we are consumed by a dazzling arctic-white beauty, and the blackest of caverns, with a sharp blade of drone acting as a threatening chasm underneath our feet.

It takes a special kind of talent to coalesce both mediums of sound and vision into one, fluid work of art. Luma is given a unique freedom to glide where it pleases, split into two distinct acts, and this unpredictability and fresh approach to art allows it to transform into a true form of art. Looking from a musical point of view, it is the moment when music ascends itself and transforms into the highest of artforms, one which can only be truly achieved by this merging of the senses. It is art which can be displayed in one’s stereo, and an art which is equally at home in a vast gallery. Also present are the careful, timid beginnings of an unexplored area inside the unknown depths and deep, intrinsic relationships between both senses hidden in our minds. Luma responds to our minds, and our minds respond in turn.

Contrasting colours bleed into one another with an apparent ease, leaving vapor trails in the air. Shadows dance in front of our eyes, twisting and forming into new and unusual shapes, vaguely human, yet indistinct forms gliding like mysteriously shaped clouds ominously appearing in our skies. It could be said that the mind responds to the seemingly unconnected forms; perhaps there is a human need to make sense of, and find images in, formless objects, that an orderly symmetry is needed for us to logically understand what we are seeing. Our brains need to constantly make sense of seemingly unconnected images, and this is one aspect which Luma plays upon to its advantage. A quiet wonder is expressed at our ability to connect seemingly shattered blades of glass which can never be truly linked. Are these eerie figures really manifesting in front of us, or is just all imagined? Does the phantom truly approach, or does it only exist as we perceive it to? Luma plays with our perceptions deliciously. Perception could, in fact, be the key to unlocking Luma’s secrets, if we should wish to discover them (it may be a good idea to leave them alone with the imagery on display). Like the rapid responses of cause and effect, thoughts take flight like an eagle in your mind.

A cavernous immensity surrounds the space, only for the deep, airy drones to arrive on a breeze, and go hand in hand along with the enveloping, snowy clouds forever clothed in a white topography. The droning ambience in the air makes for a perfect marriage in Luma’s setting. Spiralling, ever shifting and completely immersive, the drones are like deep showers of purest ice, rising and ever rising to astonishing heights, and eventually collapsing in a crushing avalanche of drone. There is a very real sense of a wide, panoramic vista, taken advantage of by the ever blurring topography; of hostile terrains and cold winds drifting in sub zero temperatures. It is an ambience of beauty, discovery and danger, and this increasing threat is acted out most prominently in the second act of the project. The purity of Luma’s entrance has vanished in this act, to be replaced – or perhaps consumed by – the pitch black hours of the night, an endless nightmare which seems to stretch to eternity. Like a nightmare, the imagery forever morphs in front of our rapidly blinking eyes and never completely fades; we are left desperate to dispel the images, and yet powerless to restrict them. Our mind has been taken hostage by the canvas, a shape-shifter, and it is here that Luma displays all of its power, manifesting as an unstoppable force. The visual beauty of the first act may prove more attractive, but it is this contrast between the first and second act which carries an impressive visual change, harmony to dissonance. As the sun falls, we may still be inhabiting the same planet as seen in the white tundra of the first act, but now the light of the sun has left, and the things which lie in wait remain hidden from our view until the light has vanished.

Droning blades increase with eerie effect.

Luma requires a deep patience for it to be most effective, and the twenty three minute length may reflect this awareness; Luma demands your attention, and the deeper the levels of concentration, the deeper the reward and appreciation. It breathes as if conscious of its surroundings.

Ink blots dripping onto the installation develop like images used in the Rorschach test, seen primarily in psychological assessments. Luma is very similar in experimentation. Blossoming ever outwards, the swirls of colours contrast and swim against eachother in front of our eyes The visuals linger, and like ink, they blur and run into different lines, in the process creating new images. All of this is born out of one image, like a galaxy playfully intertwining and consuming another, and creating new life as a result. The figures and shapes which arise are like slowly forming Gods of purple, blue and white, laying alongside an airy drone sounding like an ancient beast breathing, perhaps slowly awakening due to the seismic shifts. Once one becomes aware of how much the canvas has changed, it actually becomes quite a shock. It may seem to move, but at the same time the perception of the image changes almost subconsciously, and with a shocking sense of speed, until the realisation hits that the whole outlook has completely disintegrated, and everything has disappeared. At the end of the first act, we are left shrouded in darkness, and our sensory perceptions are suddenly deprived of a stimulation. Hints of black start to roll inwards, like an ominous rumble of thunder clearing the way for black rainbows.

In the closing minutes, a chasm opens, a deep and cavernous entrance for the drones to pass. On one side, mutated angels announcing unknown Gods carry the weight of the apocalypse on their shoulders; a destiny which was not foretold. The dark drone rises to a crescendo, and all that is left is a black canvas, one which has taken everything with it, including the mind. The most shocking aspect of Luma is the rate at which the images leave; although they trail slowly, the colours shift and disappear suddenly. The clawing black subsides, and blended with the ethereal music, Luma leaves a satisfyingly twisted edge of reality, channeling our perceptions at the same time, striking in its emptiness, and fascinating in development.

Apparitions of awe and dread emerge from nowhere. Our view from the heavens looks down upon the coldest peaks, glacial thrones trapped in ice, only for this ice to slowly drip away; drifting ever further from its source in melting magnificence. Appearances and figures on thin, spidery legs rise out from the clouded terrain. To even take a snapshot of one moment is to be taken aback; the imagery at any one point is very impressive. Another impressive aspect is Luma’s ability to reel us in. Maybe it wants to show us its beautiful display, but it may very well also want us for a more sinister purpose; a lulling sense of security before a fatal strike. This is what intrigues the most about Luma. It’s a new world, but one which unsettles us with the unknown a new continent brings. Cinematic in scope, the imagery stuns absolutely. It is a world lacking the love of civilisation.

The light is suddenly extinguished.

Leaving us snow-blind, we stand on the edge of the cavernous abyss, unable to move as it concludes. Luma is art which leaves us both inspired at the beauty of creation, and in silent awe at our endless pursuit of our own destruction. As such, it leaves us contemplating our own, inescapable fate and our own existence. Sound art such as this spreads its wings outside the constraints of sound and vision, and in so doing ascends to a higher level.


About sladzana

Visual artist and media designer, based in Rome, Italy.