Moving towards the light
It’s early morning, just before dawn, somewhere on the cold Norwegian coast. The water is lapping at the rocky shoreline. Slowly and almost imperceptibly, the sun rises and bathes the landscape in a warm morning glow. The night is gone, winter has melted away.
Edvard Munch is known for his dark and moody paintings, most famously The Scream. But when he returned to Kragerø, on the Norwegian coast, after a period of depression, he created a energetic, colorful series of images of the rising sun, the source of all life.
Munch was fascinated with light and the effect that it has on our eyes and brain. Can we see beyond the physical limits of our eyes?
Building on his curiosity for science and spirituality, the second part of the experience becomes psychedelic. A series of abstract, colourful sun ray shaped figures are shown, with space in between for the viewer to see the effects their own eyes create: after images.
The room scale version of this VR experience goes a step further: the viewer will find themselves in a completely blank space, with pink noise on their headphones. After a while, the ‘Ganzfeld Effect’ (aka prisoner’s cinema) may occur: when the brain does not get any audiovisual input, it starts creating its own stories.
This part of the experience was tested at the Bergen International Film Festival, where viewers were invited to draw their hallucinations on pieces of paper, that were hung on the walls of the exhibition space.
As it turns out, the music of “An Alpine Symphony” by Richard Strauss fits perfectly as a soundtrack for the sunrise. Munch and Strauss wrote to each other often and shared a fascination with light and scientific experiments.
The room scale installation will be on display this summer at the Munch Center in Løten, Edvard Munch’s birthplace.