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“Son et Lumière”

MIT List Visual Arts Center

By now, sound and projected light commonly fill art galleries with a stroboscopic din and flash. It’s rare, however, that an exhibition self-consciously interrogates the terms of these synesthetic experiences or the technological means by which they are achieved. Curator Bill Arning’s “Son et Lumière” deftly did so, tying the contemporary flood of multisensory environments to its kitsch parallel: the large-scale sound-and-light show traditionally employed at historic monuments. If colored laser narratives at Cheops or Versailles offer a certain psychedelic rush uncannily recycled for each incoming audience, the works in Arning’s show explored the same curious combination of bodily thrill and its mechanical repetition.

The exhibition conspicuously avoided video and DVD projection, returning instead to a variety of outmoded media. Every piece called attention to its retrograde devices,

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