The aptly named exhibition The Garden of Light features the sparkling light and luminescent color that emanates from the holographic art, paintings, prints, mobiles and installations of German artist Dieter Jung.
On view at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum until May 8, with a smaller complementary display of prints at the German Cultural Center, the exhibition will then travel to the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts.
In the Taipei Fine Arts Museum's lobby, the Calder-like mobile of silvery convex mirrors titled Transoptics slowly moves reflecting images of passersby upside-down. It is a good introductory piece to prepare the viewer for the show where the the work on view is about optical effects, visual perception, and how light hits on reflected surfaces.
Jung's exhibition in Taiwan starts with the story of the Chinese magic mirror. Created over 2,000 years ago in China, a shiny bronze disk was made so that an image of the relief on its underside could be projected onto a screen by shining a light on it. The technology behind it predates holography as the same principle of manipulating light-waves.
The obsoleteness of the mirror serves as a lesson that advanced technology will not go beyond novelty without a good concept behind it. So, it is that combination of scientific technology and aesthetic conception that motivates the artist, who also displays his own magic mirror.
Trained in theology before becoming an artist, Jung's background in philosophical investigations of existence and belief clearly informs his art. Though the works are secular, many of the non-narrative pieces would fit into any temple or house of worship as the works have an ethereal quality.
Perhaps the absence of both a narrative and a figure allows the viewer to read any kind of meaning into a simple geometric shape.
When Jung's works were shown at the Hara Museum in Tokyo, visitors sat down in front of them to meditate, as the works do have that unearthly aura about them.
So Jung was quite pleased when one of the Taipei museum guards said that in the holograms he could see eternity.
Perhaps the guard was referring to the Parochial RGB series of brightly hued geometric shapes on flat rectangular pieces of mirrored glass installed on plinths. From a distance, the holograms burst with intense, glowing color.
In holography, three-dimensional images are created on a flat surface through the diffraction of light waves with a laser. Many popular holographs contain representational images such as people, animals and buildings. In Jung's work, however, he shows that profound thoughts can be stated abstractly with only a simple line or shape.
The human figure is mainly absent from the work, with the exception of Self Portrait with Prism, where the artist is portrayed in the realm of his special technique. And a series of large white-on-white acrylic paintings bear the portraits of famous men such as Sigmund Freud and Ezra Pound. Since the contrast of the colors is slight, the images can only be seen from a distance.
It is the constant negotiating of the space around the work that the viewer must confront. So, whether the works are paintings with low-value contrast or the iridescent holographic panels, the viewer becomes a dance partner to the work, taking a step forward and back, tilting the head sideways until the right combination of distance and light are achieved to see the work in all its shimmering luminosity.