by Iyvonne Khoo
HOUSE OF ST BARNABAS, LONDON
18TH- 30TH JUNE 2016
Ara Lucidus was presented in London for the first time in June after its debut at the 56th Venice Biennale last year.
It is an enticing and complex visual work that incorporates hand-blown Murano glass, innovative computer programming and Khoo’s ongoing research into bioluminescence, to create an atmospheric world of changing light and glowing sources. As you enter the Chapel you experience the changing projections and are immediately transported into Dante’s world.
Ara Lucidus is a site-specific installation created by Iyvone Khoo. The work was initiated in response to the theme Gotika for the 2015 edition of Glasstress, a Collateral event of the Venice Biennale between the Palazzo Franchetti and the Island of Murano. Medieval Gothic minds were ruled by many fears; fear of God, of nature and of the unknown. Fireflies were believed to be souls, and their light was seen as a mysterious, magical and supernatural phenomenon.
The installation occupies a juncture where science, art and the spiritual meet. Inspired by a commonthread in bioluminescence, the work synthesizes the past with the present. Taking references from Dante’s Divine Comedy the idea crystallized into a dynamic contemporary ‘light altar’ using lasers, LEDs, ultraviolet light and video projection alongside wooden, plastic and hand -blown glass elements.
Set in darkness, a throne sits on a wooden raft, with monstrous roots that cling onto a prayer pew.
On the throne is a screen and within it is an inverted glowing skull, embedded with luminescent pigments that symbolize 'Cold Hell' and Dante's ascension to Purgatory. Growing out of the screen
is a glowing glass heart that sprouts from a tree. This relates to Dante's lost love, Beatrice and his quest for Illumination amongst the 'Dark Woods'.
By tracing the origin of the scientific term ‘Luciferin’ (the light-emitting molecule in bioluminescent organisms) the artist’s research has led to the miraculous ‘Liquor Lucidus’, a shining liquid allegedly prepared from flying glow‐worms by the German monk Albertus Magnus (1193‐1280) and undoubtedly the first recorded bioluminescent potion.
Iyvone Khoo was born in Singapore and lives and works in London.
She uses lens-based media to capture glimpses of an experience, with the camera acting as surrogate eyes.
Her practice explores the ephemeral transitory nature of being, translating these observations into video works, light sculptures and installations. She was awarded the MEAD Fellowship at University of Arts London in 2013 that has enabled her to collaborate with scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, on a science and art project studying light-emitting organisms, such as bioluminescent algae. Khoo has exhibited extensively internationally and has received various accolades from institutions such as The Wellcome Trust, University of the Arts London and The New Vista Film Awards, USA.