Kaleidoscope art

Norwegian artist Liliane Blom’s latest piece is a shining reflection of humanity

"Kaleidoscope" by Liliane Blom

Photo courtesy of Liliane Blom
Blom’s newest installation is an immersive experience that changes as you watch and listen.

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

“Kaleidoscope,” the latest installation of Norwegian artist Liliane Blom, is mesmerizing. It is currently on exhibit at Artomatic in Crystal City, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. (See the end of this article for more information about Artomatic.)

Visitors enter a small, darkened room and find themselves immersed in a tranquil environment of colors, lights, and sounds.

The focal point of the room is a rotating screen about 45” in diameter on the floor in the center of the room. A video of constantly changing patterns is projected onto this screen. This video is made up of 99 screenshots of changing kaleidoscopes created from time lapse photographs of cherry blossoms, from buds to fallen petals, that Blom photographed over a three-year period.

Fixed around the circumference of the screen are 12-inch-long mirror arms with little mirror balls at the end of each. Each arm is different and made up of a mix of little mini glass mirrors. Their colors change as they rotate with the patterns of the kaleidoscope.

While the screen rotates, one hears Blom’s voice explaining the meaning of her installation: “Each of us is a kaleidoscope, an endless reflection of a million shards of things seen, felt, and experienced. And we carry in our bones the kaleidoscope of generations past, the migration of millennia across the globe, and even the churning ocean and the song of distant stars.”

Blom was surprised at the interpretation of a visitor who saw the mirror arms and balls as representing human figures. It was not what she had in mind. But she says, “The more I think about her ‘figures’ idea, the more I love it. It’s just so nice. All the people looking down and watching the show at their feet. So cute!” She finds it fascinating how we all see different things in the same object.

The effect of lights dancing around the room, particularly on the far wall, comes mainly from the mirror collar around the rotating screen and is supplemented by a small disco ball rotating above it. Numerous round mirrors of different sizes cover three walls of the room and sparkle as they constantly reflect the swirling colors.

Sounds add to the peaceful atmosphere. They are a mix of ocean, bird, space (downloaded from NASA), and bell sounds as well as resampled music from Paul Winter’s Missa Gaia album.

What message does Blom want to convey with her installation? “In times of darkness we must keep the lights shining. We must reflect the good that is in each of our fellow humans and work towards bringing back the light—one shining act of kindness at a time, until it illuminates the world and all its creatures.”

Blom’s message is particularly timely with so much hatred and violence in today’s world. May shining acts of kindness illuminate the world and all its creatures!

A visitor called Blom’s installation “the jewel of this Artomatic.” Blom loved this comment because, she said, “It is not only a compliment but because ‘Kaleidoscope’ does have a very jewel-like quality.” A perfect next stop for this remarkable installation would be the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

“Kaleidoscope” will be on display at Artomatic in Crystal City, Va., through May 6. The location is 1800 Bell Street, 7th floor, Space 7618. Artomatic is a temporary, non-juried “pop-up” art event that happens when a building is available. A building like this one in Crystal City is between tenants. Artomatic has also been held in buildings about to be torn down or brand new ones before being leased. It is run by the participating artists and volunteers.

Liliane Blom is a digital painter and installation artist. She was born in Oslo of a Norwegian father and French mother. Her father was a correspondent for the Norwegian broadcasting system (NRK), and they lived in Germany for six years when she was a child. She moved to the U.S. to join her parents and siblings after she finished high school, as her father was stationed in Washington at the time. She remained in Washington when her parents moved back to Norway. An article about the influence of Norway on her art appeared in the April 6, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American.

This article originally appeared in the April 21, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Christine Foster Meloni

Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She values her Norwegian heritage.