Review: LUX At 180 The Strand Is Mesmerising, But Is It Memorable?

LUX, 180 Strand ★★★☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 14 months ago

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Review: LUX At 180 The Strand Is Mesmerising, But Is It Memorable? LUX, 180 Strand 3
The highlight of LUX is these crashing waves by a' strict. Photo courtesy 180 The Strand.

The bright red walls either side of me grow narrower as I progress down the tunnel. A downward sloping floor propels me forward, as if I'm being enveloped by the womb of a giant animal.

Es Devlin knows how to make an entrance. Literally. This is her contribution to LUX — 13 immersive, oversized installations by 12 media artists and collectives, at 180 The Strand.

Enter through a womb-like space. Photo Es Devlin, courtesy 180 The Strand.

With LUX coming hot on the heels of the excellent Ryoji Ikeda exhibition, it's clear this brutalist venue near Somerset House is becoming the go-to place for art experiences in the dark.

In Korean collective a' strict's room, crashing waves glow as if filled with phosphorescent algae. You can walk inside, like you're consumed by the waves, and the clever use of mirrors make it feel like an out of body experience. It's wonderfully meditative, and a highlight of the show.

Visually striking works wait around every corner; Carsten Nicolai's lengthy screen distorts before creating a rainbow, then a walking figure transforms from from fire to water to diamonds.

Flowers bloom and die in cycles in these overhead screens. Photo courtesy 180 The Strand.

Random International, the team behind Rain Room, has created a swarm of  on-screen objects that follow you as you move from side to side in front of it. Most confusing of all is Je Baak's trippy video, where a carousel spins through space. They missed a trick not calling this piece 2021: An art oddity.

LUX excels in showing us what technology and art are capable of when they combine forces. Where it's lacking is providing any further meaning beyond this. Yes, every work will look great on Instagram, but it's rarely obvious what ideas we're supposed to take away.

And while most installations are beautiful, only a few are truly memorable.

LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art, 180 The Strand, until 18 December. £18 for adults. Update: now extended until 6 February.

Last Updated 19 December 2021