"Phase Transitions" (2020) is an installation reflecting the stability of a constant change.
The 2020 pandemic brought numerous hardships to overcome; economic downturn, restricted leisure, cancelled exhibitions, and other disruptions impacted the well-being of many. Outlets reported that it is the "biggest challenge of our lifetime." However, the size of the challenge was not universal. In some areas, groups saw wearing facemasks as a threat to their liberties; meanwhile, others feared their lives as their countries convulsed in armed conflicts. Speaking of which, two world wars occurred in the previous century. Coining a specific year as unique for challenges is very subjective.
It goes for both ups and downs, and it happens simultaneously. Another period of "unprecedented changes" was the industrial revolution, rapidly improving conditions for thousands, while the automation made some jobs redundant. Then there was the Age of Discovery, which sparked globalization with all its pros and cons. The middle ages brought a literacy boom, along with Black Death and inquisition. Stories of progress, challenges, and victories are coming, no matter the century or region.
It is by no means a new concept. The phenomenon of change is deeply rooted in both the western and eastern philosophies. Heraclitus famously said, "No man ever steps in the same river twice," and that "everything flows," while Lao-Tze mentioned that "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous change."
Since then, many famous figures spoke about change. Nelson Mandela saw education as a tool to change the world. For Steve Jobs, the change was in technology. Charles Darwin stated adaptability to change as a crucial survival skill, and on a similar note, Albert Einstein linked the ability to change with the measure of intelligence.
Regardless of fields, the change remains constant. While the Earth rotates around its axis every day, each spin is slightly different. The day's length shifts through the year, the weather changes... and so we are.
The term "phase transition" describes the shift between states of matter, a change commonly seen in nature and technology. My artwork, "Phase Transitions," is executed as four wall-mounted frames — three display arrows made of light, each in a different element. Stable led light shines through a solid acrylic sheet, pulsing laser beams are visible thanks to evaporating liquid, and an evolving projection transmits through the air.
Both light and arrows are a common navigational aid, universally used regardless of languages. The arrows point the visitors (literally) the right way, towards the fourth frame located at the end of the room: it is a mirror, which returns the visitors' attention to themselves.
Individuals have distinct identities and beliefs, yet most share the goal of fulfillment, satisfaction, and happiness. Nations have diametral variability of policies and rhetoric, but the same message of prosperity and security.
In the end, we need to reflect upon us to figure our approach to time and space, make our change.
The work evolves, too. It has interactive elements: the frame with lasers switches on only when someone stands in front of it, and if the visitors get close to the mirror, they intersect the projection - altering the reflected silhouette. The projection itself is a generative animation that keeps changing, and the work is accompanied by an ambient soundscape that makes a composition with the white noise emitted by fans cooling the electronics.
"Phase Transitions" was featured during the DJCAD Masters Show, 16-25 October 2020.