Péter Tamás Halász

Dirty light

Venue: acb Gallery
Date: Oct 19 – Nov 16, 2012

His exhibition entitled Dirty Light takes the material nature of light as its starting point. Artificial light, which is an indispensable part of our everyday lives, serves as the basic medium in a number of Halász’s displayed works. The artist makes a reference to Marshall McLuhan’s notion, according to which light generated by an electric current is in itself a medium. This “medium without any content” creates, by its mere presence, space – and environment – from what would otherwise remain in darkness. Artificial light is a basic medium of our built environment. The existence of this medium is, for the most part, linked to the burning of fossil fuels. In the words of the artist: “We weave a cocoon of light around us from coal and crude oil.” Halász’s lightboxes, while utilizing the medium of artificial light, through their theme and central motif, also evoke fossil energy carriers and their possible alternatives.

Through the reflective, black glass surfaces of his lightboxes, the artist also intentionally calls to mind the most important interface of our age – the screen. Flat-screen TVs and monitors are present in the most important areas of our lives, emitting their “dirty light,” and functioning as a window to the outside world and the virtual realm. At the exhibition, the screen is present not only in the form of lightboxes but also in the physical sense: Halász raises monuments – carved from blocks of black granite and polished to a shine – to flat-screen TVs and game consoles.

Next to the “dirty light” of electricity-based electronic and communication systems, car driving – a theme that has continually resurfaced in Halász’s oeuvre in the past few years – is also represented as a more modest, albeit spectacularly realized, part of the exhibition. The automobile and its various components, which serve as the primary source of urban air and environmental pollution – and which are burdened with numerous other connotations – have also been featured, as media or formal reference, in many of Halász’s previous works. This time, the artist has constructed a heating unit from the motor block of a car, which is an obvious reference, in addition to the fact that, as per its function, it is also suitable for burning fossil fuels and, thus, further expands the layers of meaning associated with the symbolics of “dirty light.”

Show more