Lennart Lahuis explores the excitement and suspense of visual effects in his work by experimenting with a range of often unconventional materials and pseudo-scientific techniques. He uses substances such as water and beeswax in his two-dimensional works and spatial installations to create an undefined, distorted image. Or he employs reflective surfaces so that the artwork and its surroundings merge together almost unnoticed. For the audience, it is practically impossible to comprehend fully what the exhibit is. Lahuis’s work is continually shifting between the material and the ethereal, between existence and effect. It is tangible and perceptible and yet utterly mysterious.
For Silver Screen Hot Spot in the path under Parnassusweg, Lahuis drew directly on Shel Silverstein’s poem Where the Sidewalk Ends. His installation turns the tunnel into a rite of passage – a metamorphosis from ‘this place where the smoke blows black’ to where ‘the grass grows soft and white, and the sun burns crimson bright’. Silverstein’s poem reads like a transition from the harsh urban environment to a pastoral idyll. Lahuis turns the tunnel into a place where people are no longer in a hurry to leave, indeed his installation seems to capture the essence of transition.
In his installation Lahuis uses luminous road paint and reflective materials designed for marking streets and for traffic signs. Diagonal lighting creates subtle graphic effects in the reflective materials. People’s perception of the installation is constantly changing, depending on how they pass through the tunnel.
The work’s title refers to the undesired side-effect of silver screens, a type of projection surface common in early cinemas and now again in vogue with the advent of three-dimensional films. A hot spot is an effect that is seen when the projected light hits the screen from a certain angle in relation to the position of the viewer’s eye. Traffic sign designers use the materials employed in this installation and exploit the same effect, so that their signs only illuminate when the light source, the material and the observer are aligned.
Lahuis uses this imaginative method as a clever way of enabling the municipality of Amsterdam to solve the problem of providing light in public spaces. Rather than installing energy-guzzling lamps, Lahuis exploits the luminous properties of unconventional materials. Compare the work with a prism. It is not a direct presentation, a straight line from source to observer; it is the diffraction, the distorted light waves that split into all the colours of the rainbow – a subtle visual sensation that you notice by the way, from the corner of your eye.
Lennart Lahuis (b. 1986, Hengelo) lives and works in Paris. He studied at Artez Zwolle and was a resident at De Ateliers in Amsterdam.