Insidious: the Spread of Ideas

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Insidious: The Spread of Ideas – LEA18

Frankx Lefavre’s latest installation at LEA18 may have been put together at relatively short notice after the intended artist had presumably dropped out of the current round of the LEA’s Artist In Residence grants, but it is nevertheless a fascinating piece offering a wonderful breadth and depth of interpretation.

Insidious: The Spread of Ideas presents the visitor with a very alien environment. Around you is a strange, faceted green sky, while the ground beyond the very human-looking walled terrace on which you land is a vivid blue-green, suggestive of a sea frozen in time, waves caught mid-swell. Scattered across it are other indications of former civilisation: collapsed walls, a meandering footpath, and a huge, crystalline form carved into the likeness of a human head.

Insidious: The Spread of Ideas - LEA18
Insidious: The Spread of Ideas – LEA18

Across this landscape spreads a strange tangle of organic-looking growths, reaching outwards from the great monolith and curving around the landscape as if to enfold into slowly spreading arms. Nor is this all, as ranged between these tangled arms, stand creatures for whom the term alien is entirely appropriate.

Whether the landscape is that of Earth in the far-flung future, or another world elsewhere in the cosmos in unimportant; all that matters is that it had once been the home to humans. For a time it had been theirs, but that time has long passed. Whether civilisation here had faltered and failed or moved to other stars and other planets, makes no difference. All that remains are their ideas; stored for the ages to come within a great monolith, carved in their likeness, awaiting others…

Insidious: The Spread of Ideas - LEA18
Insidious: The Spread of Ideas – LEA18

And others have come. So much like us in their curiosity to explore the cosmos around them, yet so unalike in look and form. Perhaps they sought to study the strange monolith; or perhaps it was simply the passage of time and the weakening of age. Whatever the reason, the human ideas have escaped their confines, and now they spread across this otherworldly landscape, growing, spreading like tangled vines. They call to those who have come, drawing them to the monolith; infecting their thoughts, reshaping their ideals and goals, supplanting them. Like a contagion, human ideas will survive; they are insidious.

Is the crystalline head, in which the ideas can be seen shifting, writhing, turning, growing, through the magic of ribbon particles, a honey trap? Did it lure these creatures to it and encourage them to build their stairways up to it and breach its walls to give the ideas within freedom? Or is their presence purely happenstance, the spread of ideas as organic forms already having begun long before their arrival? You decide.

Insidious: The Spread of Ideas - LEA18
Insidious: The Spread of Ideas – LEA18

That ideas can seem like an infection invading us, is not so strange; when struck by an idea, we can react in an excited almost feverish manner.  Thus this installation has something of a resonance for us on a purely natural level. But there is also a lot more here as well; the hint of racial immortality, that in the distant future humankind might outlive its own extinction by infecting other races with its thoughts, ideas, desires, emotions. This brings with it shades of the age-old debate on whether or not humans are planetary parasites, adding a whole new twist to such ideas.

Beyond offering multiple interpretations (which tend to grow the longer you explore – just like the ideas within the build are intended to be growing), this piece is fascinating for its use of mesh  – Frankx tells me some 90% of the installation is mesh – to create a very organic look to the environment and the aliens themselves. Ribbon particle effects are also put to good use here as well, as mentioned above, so it is worthwhile taking a little time in explorations to discover them; those not wishing to walk can ride on buglike buggies. Do keep an eye out for the fish as well…

An absorbing installation which will be open through until the end of July as a part of the current round of LEA grants.

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