Bergström and Bigert Explore the Phenom of the Powerplant
Stockholm duo Lars Bergström and Mats Bigert would seem to be the proverbial peas in a pod. Or perhaps I should say “electrons in an atom,” given the decidedly molecular slant of the art/science/design pieces they’ve been collaborating on since 1986. Recent displays by Bergström and Bigert include “Tomorrow’s Weather”—“ a cluster of atmospheric molecules radiating different lights and colors depending on tomorrow’s weather forecast”; “If You Don’t Like the Weather Change It”—a short film about humankind’s quest to control the weather (as well as B&B’s attempts to make a hole in a cloud); and “Inverted Space Molecules”—spherical photographs strung together like so many molecules in one of those Lewis Dot Structures from high school chemistry. The fascination with climate and molecular assemblage continues with their recent “Powerplant.” The pair have created this photographic lighting installation from six acrylic globes, upon each of which they’ve imposed a fish-eye image of local power generation.
Exploring New Forms in Message Art
Judging from the broad scope and experimental milieu of their work, I’m guessing that Bergström and Bigert would downplay the element of social commentary inherent in Powerplant, focusing instead on the stark beauty of this desolate landscape, the stark contrast between it and the take-your-breath-away aspect of the globes. Much of the piece’s power derives from this contrast—the oddly staid fish-eye photographs of the interior and exterior of a mundane powerplant posed as gigantic molecules, thus suggesting that the universe is, in fact, constructed of so many frozen moments in the perpetual process of electricity generation.
Of course, from a pragmatic perspective this is absolutely the case, as the individual universes of the majority of modern humans are inextricably tied to our kilowatts, our gigajoules. Food for thought, perhaps. But the other side of this coin is Powerplant’s stunning aesthetic, which, apart form these speculations about meaning, shines in its very own self-contained and wondrous artistic universe. As with much of their work, Powerplant is singularly inventive. Seeing it in a darkened room evokes the great micro and macro mysteries of the universe—from the unfathomable star to the inscrutable quark.