Artist Jeff Robb’s Three Acts of Will is an holographic sculptural installation integrating cutting-edge 3D image-making, interactive lighting and ambisonic sound. Amidst the “sacred geometry” of flame-flickering ice-pyramids, sensual nude blurs, and silvery monoliths straight out of Space Odyssey, Robb indisputably proves himself a master magician of the dark (and light) holographic arts.
What do the first two sculptures, depicting a child and swirling mass, set the viewer up for?
They tell you about the beginning and ending of the show. The animation is the ether: a psychedelic-colored ball.
Was it inspired by an acid trip?
Maybe. It’s also a lot of fun. Quite frankly, I could stare at it for hours.
What do the hanging pyramids represent?
It’s the pregenitor of life, as a prehuman cave of infinite possibilities through a hybrid technology of video and three dimensional structures. In each pyramid, there are a million different worlds. The longer you stare, the more images emerge. These things have their own life.
What music accompanies the installation?
This is a three-dimensional ambisonic soundscape by John Rawls.
How would you describe your show to a child?
A child would just have a sense of awe and adventure, run around and enjoy it. I don’t think an explanation is particularly required.
So people can enjoy the show on a purely visceral level?
Absolutely. I’d rather they feel they’d been somewhere — an alien world, the future, the past. You walk off the streets and suddenly you’re in this crazy place full of amazing things.
You described Act II as “birth — the wrenching of the ethereal to the real.” Is being born a violent act?
Certainly the change in energies is a violent physical process. So these human figures are blended, stretched in a liminal state, almost like ghosts. When something becomes real, there’s a pain like the Big Bang.
Do you consider yourself a pioneer of holography?
I don’t think there’s anything quite like this. I respect the real pioneers in the 60’s and 70’s who were working blind, and by trial and error.
What distinguishes this project from previous holographic works?
There are two levels: the technique of the time-lapsed systems I use to capture the figures and the unique content . A recording of the space of humans’ movements: action made solid. Hopefully it’s seen more as sculpture than photographic.
Any artistic influences?
I like James Turrell, and abstract expressionists like Ivan Hitchens and Ben Nicholson. Big slabs of colour, but they’re not particularly trendy at the moment.
Do you consider your own work “trendy”?
Oh, I dont care. I’ve no idea what trendy means.
How do you think your own son will react to the show?
He’ll say, ”Cwazy!”
How does Act III foster a sense of completion?
These are hyperkinetic sketches of my son and a soundscape of him learning to speak. I recorded him for three years, documenting his genesis of speech, from noises, through a proto language, into him being able to say sentences. It’s a very personal journey, but hopefully also universal.
You’ve worked as an artist in various mediums for decades. Do you personally consider holography as the most expressive media?
It’s definitely got a magical element. I don’t know if you’ve ever developed a photograph and seen it appear in a tray. Doing that holographically is a million times more exciting. Suddenly there’s this piece of space in your hand that wasn’t there before.
How long does it take to create a hologram?
Days and weeks, rather than minutes and hours.
What are you looking forward to after the show?
A good night’s sleep.
Words: Christine Jun (Follow Christine at @christinecocoj)