Photo: Fareeha Rehman
Photo: Fareeha Rehman

ARTECHOUSE’S NAKED EYES Exhibit More Than Meets The Eye

Immersion through the NAKED EYES exhibit relies less on sight than anticipated. Instead, the experience is heavy on sound, often leaving you in the dark with uneasy, rhythmic beats echoing for multiple seconds as the blue-toned white lights reappear again in their linear form.

Minimal lines and white lights (or lack thereof) are signature features of installations by the artist-musician-architect duo comprising NONOTAK studio. At ARTECHOUSE, visitors can step into four of their installations, all stylistically melding from room to room, but each an entirely unique experience.

“Base Line” was grounded in the largest room, with ten rows of flashing LED lights stretched like oversized guitar strings. With bass-heavy audio, walking between the lights felt like stepping into a Guitar Hero game, the lights alternating in coordination with the music.

The significantly smaller installation, “Ocean,” was like a meditative space. While you can still hear the sounds coming in from Baseline (there is no door to separate the two) the melodic audio by Takami Nakamoto, the musician in the NONOTAK team, was more calming as it synced with the circular light shapes appearing on the wall through horizontal rows of LEDs.

The most disturbing of the installations was aptly-named “Coma.” The kinetic light installation entranced you with a synchronized “dance” and ominous sounds. Then, the one true total immersion came through with the “Zero Point One” installation. Through the doors leads you to a pitch black space appearing to be infinite. The lights (using fiber optic and lasers) are contained in a central boxy grid shape, that opens and closes as the lasers zoom vertically, horizontally, and cross each other.

The magic about Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto’s pieces are that they captivate through minimalism. There are no bright, firework-like displays. You enter a world that is black and white, but hard to look away from. Though it’s meant to be seen through “naked eyes,” the exhibit depends on music to set the tone throughout each installation. Without soundproof divisions, the music for each space even interacts at times and alters the immersion.

I’d recommend going during non-peak times so as to not disrupt the lights and sounds with other visitors crowding around. After walking through, you can take a seat at the bar with a view of Base Line behind you and try an augmented reality cocktail. Bringing the NONOTAK aesthetic to another dimension, the cocktails will appear to have lasers and shapes when using the ARTECHOUSE app.

NAKED EYES by NONOTAK studio runs through June 30. Tickets are $15, with a student and child discount available.

ARTECHOUSE: 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, DC; www.artechouse.com

Fareeha Rehman

Fareeha is a writer and artist raised in northern Virginia. Tweet her compliments @ RehmanFareeha