The [Void] of insomnia

The [Void]

The [Void], LEA 27

Storm Septimus’ newly opened AIR-6 installation The [Void] is not, in the words of one of her friends who witnessed it being built, “a happy fun town”. But then, it’s not designed to be, as Storm explains in the comprehensive introductory notes:

The idea was to create a representation of the space that falls between waking and sleeping, but one born of an exhausted mind.

As such, this is a place where insomnia rules, and the line between reality and the imagination becomes increasingly twisted, mixing the two together the longer the condition goes on, confusing the eye and mind.

The [Void]

The [Void], LEA 27

Insomnia isn’t the easiest of subjects to tackle for many reasons – the most obvious being that few of us ever suffer from it, and for those who do, it isn’t perhaps the easiest sensation to describe, even when willing to do so; particularly once it has gone on so long, our mental faculties are less than optimal unable to correctly process even the most basic sensory inputs.

This is a very dark piece – literally. If your viewer doesn’t automatically switch to the region’s default windlight, flip it over yourself to AnaLu Outdoor City Night (or failing that, Midnight, if your viewer doesn’t have a really dark option). Do bear in mind the images here have been toned-up to reveal details. The darkness is intentional; long-term insomnia is said to induce feelings of confusion, disorientation and upset, and the use of an extremely dark setting of this piece soon induces the same feelings in the visitor.

The [Void]

The [Void]. LEA 27

You start off boxed into a claustrophobic environment where the only sources of light coming from flickering television sets, the first of which will provide information on the installation, the rest of which appear to be literal flashes of random thought from a tired mind (and also, in places, the artist, offering words of comfort).

Nothing is linear here; movement is a case of feeling your way around, walking, falling, flying and discovering things as shapes and forms loom out of the darkness. Here and there, power cables from the different television screens snake through the murky world, offering guidance; but how much guidance rather depends.

The [Void]

The [Void], LEA 27

Frustration is liable to be a common reaction to initial attempts to explore, as will be the temptation to try to “turn up the lights” with a brighter windlight. I’d encourage you to try to resist the latter and accept the former; frustration and confusion are very much a part of the experience, as noted above. Just stay with things, and you will find your way around. Remember, as per the hints card, touch is an important part of the experience, and keys and a heart play important roles in moving you between the various levels of the piece, which range from high in the sky, right down to beneath the waves and back again (the last being the one genuinely bright element o the exhibit).

Symbolism is strong throughout the piece, such as with the aforementioned televisions. Poppies are also much in evidence here as well, unsurprisingly given their link with opiates and sleep (perhaps the greatest desire of the insomniac), their association with death and remembrance (the memory of times when sleep came), and their classical links with resurrection after death (perhaps mirrored in the insomniac’s mind as their awakening after that hoped-for deep and peaceful sleep they long to experience).

This is a quite powerful piece, assuming you can keep your frustration from getting the better of you – I confess, I read Honour’s post on it in the LEA blog late at night and hopped over only found my own (minor, in the scheme of things) tiredness caused me to get frustrated enough to give up first time around!

The [Void]

The [Void], LEA 27

I understand from the introductory notes that some live events may be planned for The [Void]. Keep an eye on the LEA blog for details.

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