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Thursday, 23 December 2010

Magic Lantern- Mat Collishaw

I have to admit to not knowing what I expected. Perhaps I was just looking for some of the beauty that had entranced me in his Insecticide prints. In which case I can't deny that Collishaw delivered. I think perhaps I imagined that Collishaw had been granted the dome of the Victoria and Albert museum as an exhibition space. Well this is also true, but we are not as yet granted access.
At dusk I ask how I get to the dome and I am told that I will have to go out in to the street to see it. If I cross over the road I should get the best view. So I wrap up warm and dash across the road, the dome has been transformed in to a beacon of light but I am too close to discern its detail. So I skip down the street passing tall South Kensington doors and parked black taxis until I can look back and take it all in.
In the street in my madness Collishaw's Magic Lantern looks like a schizophrenic strobing of bats in the belfry, not the elegant worship of moths to a flame. But I have to put this down to my obscure perspective. I don't think that this mad dash outside as closing time approaches at the V&A is what the experience is about. This is for the outside world; a beacon to lost souls out in London who might be attracted to the Victoria and Albert museum like little moths to its potent art flame.
I have committed another injustice. When I return to the Madejski gardens to see the replica zoetrope I can gain enough perspective to feel real admiration. Here the moths are engaged in their ritual worship of the light. Delicate, fluttering forms moving faster than the eye can perceive. A zoetrope is a cylindrical device first designed in 1834, 'a rapid succession of images simulates motion'. As with Insecticide I see Collishaw playing with the modern and the traditional; digital animation and Gothic fairytale are forced together in a contemporary fusion. When Collishaw's zoetrope begins to spin on the edge of the lake magic is invoked. I wish I could get far enough away from the dome to see Collishaw 'animating the Museum's architecture with a work of haunting beauty.' For now the replica zoetrope allows me to imagine and my imagination goes wild.

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