Carlos Cruz-Diez was a Venezuelan artist who lived and worked in Paris since 1960. The artist was a significant protagonist in the field of kinetic and optical art. He has pioneered a couple of impressive artworks. Some vividly remember his crosswalks installations, painted in numerous cities such as Mexico City, Houston, Texas, Marseille, Los Angeles, and others.
Spatial Chromointerference, Cistern
In 2018, Cruz-Diez created Spatial Chromointerference inside of a cistern in Houston, Texas. The work looks like one of his crosswalks when viewed through a Kaleidoscope.
The artist had a long history with the city of Houston. Some of his works are in the collection of the MFAH, another work, Double Physichromie, is installed at the University of Houston campus.
How it was created
Spatial Chromointerference involves projections of different colors, including green, blue, and red, illuminating the corners and the columns of the cistern. Twenty-six projectors let the light hit and rebound off the wall to create optical illusions. Additionally, white cubes are floating on the floor. Reflections on the water further enhance the visual impact.
The cisterns’ concrete walls serve as the blank space where the light is transformed. Visitors become an integral part, both as a spectator and an object of transformation, losing their materiality. Color is not merely an effect but something meant to experience.
The site-specific environment was created at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. This place is a 1926 underground water reservoir that got restored and eventually revealed in 2016. The cistern didn’t have any of its own embellishment. For that reason, the colors, the line, and movement created here completely dematerialize the unique space.
The work installed previously, Magdalena Fernández’s Rain, was another silent and immersive masterpiece.
The role of the visitor
The visitors become active participants as they move from one place to the other. They act as a canvas for the lights. If you plan to visit, you are encouraged to wear white clothes, which are the best color to intensify the experience.
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The 1974 edition of the work
Spatial Chromointerference was now shown for the second time. In 1974 it was first installed at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas in the artist’s native country Venezuela. The older version was made with slide projectors so that the projectors could fit the installation site.
In the 2018 version, modern technology has improved the whole work. Unlike the hustle the installers had to pass through in 1974, the advancement in projector technology opened more possibilities. Now the artists can have a much improve maximum strength of the colors. More progress in technology might make this work even more accessible in the future.
Cruz-Diez let the primary colors mix and meld perfectly, creating a sort of rainbow effect. The spectators in this art project will become actors and, at the same time, the authors of a complete chromatic event. This must-see work creates a spatial situation aimed at dematerializing objects and people.
Spatial Chromointerference is one of the largest installations by Cruz-Diez and certainly one of his most outstanding works.
All images: Paul Hester for Carlos Cruz-Diez & ADAGP, Paris 2019 unless otherwise noted.