Philadelphia Inquirer

Posted on Fri, Sep. 17, 2004

Art | The illusion of movement in sculpture
Watching an inanimate object "perform" makes "Limbic Pentameter" a memorable multimedia experience.



By Edward J. Sozanski
Inquirer Art Critic

The only visual-arts piece in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe scores a solid success. Limbic Pentameter, by Carolyn Healy and John Phillips, adroitly combines sculpture with video and a soundtrack. The synthesis of these elements is perfectly achieved, but then it needs to be, because Healy and Phillips intend that Limbic Pentameter should symbolically mimic the complexity of human consciousness. The artists want viewers to imagine that the installation's continually shifting patterns of light and shadow and its multitonal soundtrack provide a model for brain activity.

Initially, one is fascinated more by the installation's physical and kinetic complexity. Healy has constructed a floor sculpture out of found objects and industrial scrap such as pipe, screening and grids. A projected video, mostly in blue and yellow-green, penetrates and illuminates this structure, which is seen in a darkened room. The video beam creates the illusion of movement within the sculpture and in dancing shadows on the walls.Phillips' audio track evokes a sound-effects studio in full chorus. Squeaks, clangs, moans, booms and whistles are suprisingly musical in spots. You find yourself listening to the piece as much as watching it. You can walk around the piece, but the best vantage point is under the projector. One needn't accept the consciousness analogy to appreciate the delightful ingenuity of this collaboration.

Watching an inanimate object "perform" makes Limbic Pentameter a memorable experience.