Katie Paterson is hugely capable of realising complex concepts in the most lyrically simplistic ways. Early on in her career there was a single lightbulb suspended in a dark room, the light it emitted was strange and totally unlike the yellow bleach of a regular lamp. Light bulb to Simulate Moonlight took the spectral measurements of lunar illumination and working closely with lighting specialists, Katie created enough of them to last one person a lifetime of moonlight.
Then there is the piece that saw her map all the dead stars and a separate work that prompted her to write a letter announcing the death of a star whenever she heard the news. There are the lamps on a pier that oscillated with the pattern of lightning strikes happening across the world and a record player that rotates in synchronisation with the earth playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
That her works can be communicated in such easy terms is astounding considering the technology and expertise that go into them. Her latest work, previously performed at the 54th Venice Biennale, will be “set off” tomorrow in Hong Kong for the International Art Fair at the Ingelby Gallery booth and is a lighthearted response to her time spent in an observatory in Hawaii looking for the brightest explosions in the universe.
These gamma ray bursts are “only now reaching us across space and time” and date back more than 11 billion years. The piece, 100 Billion Suns at ART HK 12, will consist of confetti cannons, their contents chromatically matched to the quantity and hue of the gamma ray bursts, and each day one of these will be set off in a different location and their explosions captured photographically.
The term multi-disciplinary can sound a bit heavy-handed but with Katie the ideas are her medium and she handles them so deftly that her finished works, no matter how varied, are coherent and totally appropriate to their intention. The poetic, philosophical, eschatological, epic meaning one might take away from coming into contact with her work is all part of the intimate engagement Katie evokes from us with our physical and metaphysical environment.
Katie Paterson: 100 Billion Suns will be on show from May 16 – 20 at Ingelby Gallery at the Hong Kong International Art Fair 2012.