Love Is a Secret Society, a Community for Two

by Lanier Nelson

Abbey Luck's ILLUMECHO Opened over the Weekend in Franklin Village
If you walk down Franklin Avenue on a blustery evening this week, you may be drawn—as a moth to a flame—to the enchanting glow emanating from a small storefront, wedged between a Pressed Juicery and a tiny sushi bar. No, this is not the new cult in town, but perhaps a light echo of one. Illuminecho: a pop up light show designed and implemented by artist and animator Abbey Luck. Come inside and you will be welcomed by the eerie glow of the plastic boxes hanging on the wall. Sheets of acrylic have been hand-designed, laser cut, then meticulously layered and pieced together to create exquisite, back lit scenes; two amoeba staring into space as lovers in “Gazing at the Diatoms,” a sea of hands stretched to the sky in “Reaching for the Star.” These pieces—though whimsical in imagery—literally bring to light heavier topics of religion, humanity, and biology, as complex and intricate as the carefully cut acrylic panels themselves.

“Why do people let beliefs define their lives?” is the over-arching question Luck poses with this show, highlighted in her satirical Illuminecho propaganda pamphlet, she challenges the viewer to compare the absurdity of this plastic-worshiping light-cult, against their own, absurd beliefs. “[People] believe in things very hard…I’ve never thought, since I come from that science background, that beliefs mean reality. I wanted to challenge it by presenting a really ridiculous narrative of this plastic-worshiping cult, and if you think about how dumb that is, then maybe think about how dumb the things you think are, because if you think about it, it’s not really that far off, its like a possibility that this crazy sci-fi thing that I wrote down could happen.”

These concepts are further deconstructed with the interactive experience of “The Changing Rooms.” Here, the traditional pixel comes to life in its new form of custom-crafted acrylic “3-D pixels,” surrounding you on three sides. Motion sensors illuminate spirals to play an animation around you like a living organism. “[I wanted to explore why] the pixel the way that it is, it’s been this way for a century, what if we re-envision it as an organic thing, a thing that comes out at you—so you can almost feel it happening around you.”

The other changing rooms on either side play the same animation in more traditional forms. A mirrored wall opposite the rooms allows all viewers to watch the same animation from all three different perspectives, simultaneously.

A beautiful coming together of science, technology, biology, and faith, in the familiar form of plastic, Luck’s Illuminecho challenges our perspectives and understanding of the light that guides us, from the gallery space and beyond.