Shadows and reflections

Post by Colette Copeland


Carolyn Healy and John Phillips’ new collaborative work, Limbic Pentameter transports you into another world.

Their multi-media installation integrates sculpture, sound and video projections. The musty-smelling dark room, off the loading dock of the National Building, immediately envelops the viewer. Healy transformed a pile of debris into intricately woven and crafted meshed wire and metal sculptures. Phillips interspersed speakers and lights within the sculptures, which when activated, create the illusion of animated life forms. The video projections produce additional movement within the structure, casting reflections upon the wall and adding to the otherworldly environment. It remains impossible for the viewer to participate as a sole spectator. The viewer’s shadows synthesize with the reflections of the sculptures, implicating the viewer within the space.

As the sounds and lights rhythmically reverberate throughout the room, I notice pairs of opposing concepts in the installation . A sense of both weightiness and weightlessness permeates from the sculptures, as absorption and reflection simultaneously occur. The video projections elicit a vision of the microscopic (think inner workings of a brain or computer) as well as macroscopic (think futuristic space travel).

The sound’s synchronized tempo mimics the poetry structure of the pentameter (cleverly referencing the iambic pentameter). When I asked the artist about “limbic,” he responded that it was the lower brain stem or what is known as the frog brain.

Healy and Phillips successfully create a playful, experiential environment, conjuring limbic or reflexive responses. (Perhaps we have more in common with frogs than we care to admit). Limbic Pentameter is on display at 119 Arch St., in Old City through Sept. 18. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 6-10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2-10 p.m.

–Colette Copeland curated “Death Bizarre,” an exhibit in Hoboken.