Destructive Observation Field
Destructive laser installation [2014]
Destructive Obersvation Field

A strong multispectral laser points at a black reflective plate of plastic hanging from the ceiling. Most of the light is absorbed and turned into heat. The thermal forces slowly deform the plate's surface where it hits, and is adding more and more ripples and curvatures to it. A small part is reflected back to a white screen on the opposite side of the room and the heat induced deformations and structural changes become visible as large and complex visual patterns.

During the course of several days, the laser beam scans over the surface of the plate in slow random movements and leaves traces of destruction. The light patterns on the projection screen get more and more complex over time. However, the same technique that creates the spatial decompositions of light also destroys them again when the process is repeated too often. There is no strict separation between 'writing' changes to the plate or 'reading' the deformation.

The observation process is destructive.

By adding more and more imperfections to the surface of the plastic plate, the resulting patterns become increasingly more interesting until a certain threshold is reached, after which the process seems to reverse: More destruction leads to less interesting results, ending ultimately after a long time with just a diffuse reflection of light. The installation becomes blind.

Destructive Observation Field can also be performed. [link to performance version]

The installation behaves like a living organism, it creates expanding and contracting forms that have a semi-organic appearance. Some of the thermal changes can happen very fast, causing tiny bubbles of plastic to appear and burst, magnified on screen a few hundred times, the effect of a microscope. The magic of optics.

The characteristic visual appearance of the installation is the result of interference patterns, waves amplifying and canceling each other out in space, leaving complex traces of light and darkness.

June 6 2014 - July 20 2014
Le Fresnoy
Studio national d'arts contemporains
Lille, France

August 20 2014 - August 21 2014
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Berlin, Germany

March 20 2015 - March 30 2015
STRP Biennale
Eindhoven, Netherlands

August 3 2015 - August 9 2015
Krake Festival
Berlin, Germany

November 11 2015 - February 20 2016
The Lowry
Manchester, UK

September 23 2015 - October 3 2016
Beijing Design Week
Beijing, CN

Photos taken at STRP-Biennale © 2015 by Anna Katharina Scheidegger


Image above: laser induced surface deformation and destruction, installation detail.