[May 30 2017]
It bids patience. To instil a saccharine pop to hand gestures, remaking semiotic palm-to-palms into tactile encounter, touching with soft light. And what a signal to our devotion to modernity. Less as commerce, this is not neo-geo after all, but to the body electric clambering in caustic whimsy. It whispers rosy and sweet something’s to a questioning audience. That the fin-de-siècle Parisians would now revel in such illuminations is hardly far-fetched; at one point even the most sceptic of them (was it Céline? Cezanne? One of the C’s) would admit the light is somewhat comforting, its hum conditioned to calm, the light a monument always on the precipice of being switched off. No one is about to pull the plug quite yet.
But back to those early modernists: the hum-coloured lights must have threatened their palette, only to be absorbed by future generations as a new painterly style. It takes time to build such confidence in the new, even if its consecration then happens quickly. What a colourless painting. Someone reminds me that the hierarchy of the senses is dictated by history: surely the neon does not undo this? Surely the avant-garde would sympathise with this, even offer a hand in its making?
What a quiet gesture modernism was, what a small dream in the end.
Photo Skylar Williams and text Sabrina Tarasoff