Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Power Plant

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
29th March 8.30pm
10 Days on the Island


Our worlds are constituted by what we see and hear. Change the lights, modify the sounds and our worlds metamorphose into new and unexpected shapes. This is wonderfully effective at night, when the darkness frames the differences, leaving our focus on what is new and enthralling.
Such is the strength of the series of strange dreams that make up Power Plant. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are familiar landscapes to residents of Hobart, but each light and sound installation has transformed locations around the gardens into something unrecognizable. It's enormously effective, and terrifically diverse.

Yes, there are simple greens and reds that light the trunks of trees like sandstone country churches, leaving the leaves quietly in shadow, but there is also a tree of glass bells that ring out as they brighten, a promenade of lamps and benches, a field of trees emulating organ pipes, an alien conservatory, a glade of flowery dresses, moodily and spooky lit. And of course, spurts of fire bursting from the duckpond, each spout of flame emitting trumpet-like blurts.

It's as though, as the title of the installation suggests, the trees and shrubs have literally been empowered. Every use of lighting, from the birds built from globes, swinging in the trees, to the cracks of branch lighting, suit their moods superbly; each is a measure of their individuality. The almost primitive sounds that their trunks and branches appear to emit seem a language they would speak, if only they were given the ability.

Power Plant is a new song that has set the gardens singing; an exciting and accessible example of how to make the familiar eerie and surprising, it's a highlight of this year's festival. Not to be missed.

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