The Open Plain: Interviewing the creators of the light installation

Niche Chathong | Images courtesy from VOLNA

We have a chance to interview VOLNA - the creators behind The Open Plain - The large-scale site-specific light installation created on a indoor football field in the St.Petersburg downtown. Video projected on a lawn surface visually inspired by sport fields markings aesthetics. It was used to create an immersive “navigation system”, a guideline for an audience trying to find waymarks in a dark hangar.

Here are some records of our conversation with Nikita Golyshev of VOLNA media-artists group from Saint-Petersburg Russia.

Please tell us the meaning and pronunciation of «Чисто поле»

Nikita:«Чисто поле» is an idiom in Russian, meaning vast virgin field of any kind (natural or unsown). It was often used in folklore tales and songs. It is pronounced like "chisto pole". You can listen how it sounds (can't find any transcriptions so far) here.

F: Are there any conditions of the site that lead to some part in executions?

Nikita: It is a large indoor football field with 10m ceiling, so we decided to project the pitch to avoid being involved in complicated and expensive production process. So, we simply placed 2 beamers in the edges of the hangar and made a protective shell for them – football filed was open for its visitors (mainly football players) during the whole production process, and hardware safety was a priority for us :)

F: How was feedback from the audiences?

Nikita:I was very surprised that the audience joined the "game" with projection without any interactive component of installation – they were following the "marking lines", jumped from one virtual circle to other. It looked like a hopscotch sometimes.


F: Which is the part of the project that you like the most?

Nikita:As I mentioned earlier, I liked this unexpected interactivity most of all. As the project didn't include any interactive video, we didn't use Kinect or other trackers, we're very happy that our work became not just an object to look at.

F: How this project evolve your vision in design?

We worked on a conceptual part of the installation a lot, as it was a part of exhibition project – we had to prepare a lot of texts for catalog and present our conception far much earlier than we started to work on the formal part of the project (visuals, construction, e.t.c). We thought of many variants of the project (including kinetic and light solutions), but the initial idea remained unchanged.

F: What are the team plan to do next?

As always, we are finding ways and opportunities to implement our ideas and aesthetic visions to real life :)

The Open Plain is а place for introspection about borders and the rules of play. Its flat, uniform surface disorients us, thus rendering our choice of direction meaningless. The game takes over and marks up the field. Placed on a real football field, looking down deconstructed pitch lines formed from projected light beams, the viewer perceives them as the only possible reference point for space and direction. Order exists only within an isolated space, outside of which there is only a vague darkness. As soon as the lines and borders blur or get mixed up, the viewer is forced to seek out a new place for themselves on the field in accordance with the airtight paradigm of inevitable motion and collision.

The lines and borders of the field restrict our movements, giving form to an inevitable conflict between the players seeking victory and control over this space. Ephemeral lines that are constantly shifting and guided only by their own internal logic disrupt the viewer’s ability to perceive space, hindering their ability to navigate real obstacles that are placed on the field. Having come to doubt the veracity of the visible space, the borders and limitations that were dictated only by fleeting lights disappear and what was before a confined field of play with clearly outlined rules and purpose becomes something larger and more abstract: an open plain.


Concept, production and video: VOLNA


Camera: Alexey Kubasov

Special thanks: "Angar" indoor footbal field

Part of the programm "Abstracts of Soviet Noise" (curator Alexander Felch)

Project supported by Bundeskanzleramt Österreich

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