ARTISTS Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Leon Narbey CURATOR Robert Leonard
In 1970, Leon Narbey created Real Time, a full-gallery interactive light-sound installation, as the opening show for New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. He filled the former cinema with flashing lights, reflective surfaces, streamers and noise. Artist Paul Hartigan, a high-school student at the time, recalls: ‘It was a mesmerising mix of flashing fluorescent tubes amongst a sea of reflective black plastic, buzzing neon tubes and sodium-vapour lamps, all creating an eerie unnatural phosphorescent light-and-sound environment. This was my first introduction to neon, and I was sold. It got into my blood!’ (Hartigan would later work extensively in neon.)
Narbey documented his installation in A Film of Real Time (9min 20sec, 1970), translating the sculptural experience into a cinematic one. He would continue to work in film, as a cinematographer and director. Here, Narbey’s film is shown alongside the Hungarian modernist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s film Light Play: Black-White-Grey (6min, 1930), which documents the effects of his kinetic light sculpture, the Light-Space Modulator.
Thanks to Nga Taonga Sound and Vision and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery for A Film of Real Time, and the Moholy-Nagy Foundation for Light Play.