This past weekend, Dallas played host to Prelude: A Preview of Aurora 2017, a free curated outdoor exhibition of ten large-scale audiovisual works of art in advance for next fall's return of the biennial Aurora event to the Dallas Arts District. This was a much smaller, more contained event than Aurora, which stretches from the Winspear Opera House along Klyde Warren Park, and around the Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Center, but Prelude was more than enough to whet an art lover's appetite for next year. All the works displayed made use of light, sound, movement, and some viewer interaction.
Among the works displayed (which is also one of the easiest to describe) was what was billed as a "lumino kinetic" piece called Light Wave by teamVOID, which is comprised of artists Junbong Song and Jaehyuck Bae. Using an LED light board and a motor, they created the illusion of ocean waves in motion, among 19 other patterns. Light Wave seemed to be a crowd favorite and may be an even bigger draw if it returns for Aurora next year.
I found Tramain Townsend's Inc. particularly hypnotic. The piece was a video loop of ferrofluid being manipulated with electromagnets to create a variety of shifting abstract forms. The inky blackness and eerie sounds made for a haunting, surreal presentation. It made me think of being lost in space, or like some kind of crystalline life form that you would see on Doctor Who. For those of you who have never been to the Aurora event, this is exactly the kind of thing you can expect to see.
Inc. by Tramain Townsend
Another piece that caught my attention was Montréal artist Herman Kolgen's Unwind. What you see is a large cocoon like object suspended above the pool facing the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and inside that cocoon is a tree. The tree is wrapped in lights and hooked up to an artificial respiration system that breathes with the wind and the people around it. It ends up resembling a heart beating, a lung respiring, or (to get sci-fi again) Mothra waiting to emerge from his chrysalis.
Prelude can be taken as a sign that the city of Dallas and the arts community hope to eventually turn Aurora into an annual event, and they should. The Arts District really comes alive during nighttime events like this and shows us that there's something of substance here beneath the glitzy, ultramodern facade of downtown Dallas.