A spiral of 960 light bulbs lead you through this Y-shaped installation by Carsten Hller. The Sweden-based artist designed this installation, appropriately entitled Y, out of aluminum, wood, cables, and mirrors, to form a continuous daze of flashing, bulb-filled circles that branch out into two pathways. As visitors travel through the installation, they become engulfed in a sea of illumination.
Throughout the room, there is an incandescent glow as the bulbs flicker and flash in various light sequences. Hller’s works often have a playful tone to them–many of his past installations have involved swings, playground slides, and other children’s recreational entertainment–but, his structures are generally built to challenge the expectations of an adult audience. In Y, the motion of the lights gives the impression that the stationary structure is spinning and creates a bewildering experience within a very simple construction. The perplexing visual illusions created from the flashing lights make it difficult to navigate what should be an easily accessible path and viewers are forced to contemplate their steps much more closely than might be first expected.
According to Hller’s website, “Y is related to the Max Frisch novel Mein Name sei Gantenbein from 1964. The protagonist Gantenbein plays with several identities, eventually pretending to be a blind man. Turning his vision on and off at his own leisure, Gantenbein comes to enjoy observing other people who think that he cannot see them.