This Installation Plays With The Idea Of Light, Experiments And The Things We Think We See

Photographer, William Gedney, once said, “all facts lead eventually to mysteries”, and this is certainly a prominent idea within, Anno Tropico, a light installation by Andrea Trimachi and Simone Farresin. Filmed in their studio, and then exhibited in the Peep-Hole Art Centre in Milan, the duo carried out a series of experiments with light and shadow to create a poignantly poetic response to the natural phenomenon.

Yet the final installation by the Italian Designers is not an answer, it is the beginnings of a discussion – it throws up more questions then it answers and this is one of the great beauties of art. There are several elements to the piece – the installation itself, which required a readjustment of the gallery’s architecture, the video and then the studio-conducted experiment.

The narrative talks about our inability to really control or know about the universe due to the time delay of light, but also how this delay allows us to see things that we would never have been privy too. It both opens up our horizons and restricts them simultaneously, however what we are watching in Andrea and Simone’s video is actually man-made – the light is created and controlled yet the questions conjured transcend that.


It makes us wonder, what do we know? And are we sure about what we do know? Is it as peaceful to stare up at a starry night sky once you know that really you are looking at a canopy of death? This installation brings up questions like dominos and we should live our lives like this: constantly questioning but through beauty and expression.

We spoke to the designers, lecturers and existential questioners about this latest project.

The Plus: What first inspired the video?
Andrea Trimarchi & Simone Farresin:
It was inspired by a discussion we had with Dr. Edoardo Tescari of the Astronomy University of Melbourne. On screen Abstract lights and shadows are at times interrupted by more familiar elements like a hand moving simple mockups. These are the recordings of some of the experiments we conducted in our studio while familiarising ourselves with the new media (light). A voiceover describes lights phenomena on a cosmological level enlarging the discussion on an even bigger and almost existential level.


TP: How did you collaborate with peep hole?
AT & SF:
This is the first design exhibition organised by Peep-hole and the collaboration with them has been very organic and fruitful. We discussed together the kind of approach we would have had and as for instance the inclusion of both finished pieces and more process based experiments. They also introduced us to Fonderia Battaglia, a bronze foundry where we produced a few pieces for the show.


TP: How long did the piece take to install?
AT & SF:
The installation of the pieces took almost a week but the whole show almost two. In fact, we also modified the architecture of the gallery adding walls-diaphragms corresponding to the windows along the perimeter of the gallery to modulate the intensity of daylight. The nature of this work transforms not just the architecture but also the functioning of the exhibition space, in which the opening hours varied depending on seasonal changes of the lighting.

TP: What is your personal opinion on the relationship in between natural and artificial illumination?
AT & SF:
All man made things are beautiful because they manifest human desire to transcend its biological limits. Artificial lighting is just a wonderful wannabe.

TP: What questions would you like people to ask as a result of visiting the installation?
AT & SF:
What is design? What is function? What is production? In the show for instance we also included a series of 3D renderings of details of the objects presented overlapped with pencils illustrations. Details of the lamps are frozen in zoomed and unusual view points, while the meshes defining the forms are used as axes of graphs describing energy consumption on a global scale. 3d digital modeling (which is not a design tool we use), instead to be presented as a medium for simulation and clarity is here making the objects barely recognizable and slightly grotesque. More then being informative on climate related issues the illustrations have the clear aim to problematize the relationship between the profession of the designer and its implicit participation in consumption.


TP: What materials/equipment are used in the installation?
AT & SF:
The list would be what too long…metals, electrical components, marble, plastic, paper, an iPhone, a parabolic mirror, bronze mirrors, led lighting, oil, a video projection, glass, dichroic glasses…

TP: Sum up the installation in three words.
AT & SF:
Installation about light


TP: Tell us about yourselves.
AT & SF:
We are two Italian designers based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Our interest in product design developed on the IM master course at Design Academy Eindhoven, where we graduated in July 2009. Our work is characterized by experimental materials investigations and explored such issues as the relationship between tradition and local culture, critical approaches to sustainability and the significance of objects as cultural conduits. We perceive our role as a bridge between craft, industry, object and user and we are interested in forging links between our research-based practice and a wider design industry.

Whether designing for a client or investigating alternative applications of materials we apply the same rigorous attention to context, process and detail to every project they undertake. In general, we do so with an eye to the historical, political and social forces that have shaped our environments.

Our work is in the permanent collection of several international museums. At the moment we are also teaching at the ‘Well Being’ Department and the Contextual Design Master of Design Academy Eindhoven. From next year we are also going to be the head of a new design department called ‘Man Made’ In Sicily. We love food and cooking.

TP: What next?
AT & SF:
First of all, a holiday! We are going to Greece for the first time ever and we are really excited. Then we are working on the scenography for a fashion show, a project related to cosmetics, the development of some lights for an industrial producer, a presentation at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, a project for the National Gallery of Melbourne, the development of a new material for interior surfaces….