Artist; Dan Acher
The Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, is one of the more breath-taking and awe-inspiring natural phenomena know to us. Found mainly in the high-altitude areas around the Arctic and Antarctic, they are natural light displays that appear as curtains, rays, spirals, or dynamic flickers that cover the entire sky.
It’s not everyone who can venture to such out-of-the-way locations to see this wonder, so it’s lucky that Swiss artist Dan Acher has created Borealis, a light installation that recreates these light patterns. Acher uses high power lasers that travel through particle clouds (generated, in part, by dry ice machines dotted around the performance space), to create the illusion.
And the illusion works exceptionally well. Using the 3 primary colours – red, green, and blue – Acher is able to give a very real sense of the Aurora Borealis within the confines of his space. This effect is quite dramatic and gives the space an ethereal feeling that is enhanced by a minimalist soundscape playing throughout the performance.
The combined result of light, sound, and location is very calming while generating a feeling of wonder. The location, on the grounds of Greenwich’s Royal Naval College, couldn’t be more fitting for an ‘urban’ interpretation of a natural phenomenon. Christopher Wren’s English Baroque design encases three sides of the ground and is completed with the river Thames, and beyond that, the ultra modern Canary Wharf.
This juxtaposition of old and new, water and land, dark (skies) and light creates a magical sensation that adds to, rather than diminishes, the experience. And gives this Aurora a rather comforting feeling than, say, the wide expanses of the Arctic for the real Borealis.
The audience is encouraged to walk around the grounds, to experience the aurora from a variety of positions, and so people are standing, sitting, lying down, but all staring, transfixed, skyward.
Runs until 5 September 2021, at Greenwich, then 9-11 September at Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich
Both locations are sold out but walk –up tickets may be available