Haroon Mirza – The Night Journey – Asian Art Museum
Electricity comes alive in The Night Journey, a mesmerizing light and sound installation by London-based multimedia artist Haroon Mirza. This site-specific, immersive artwork arises from the artist’s interests in Sufi mysticism, meditation, trance music and other consciousness-altering practices as alternate ways to experience the world.
The Night Journey is based on an Indian miniature painting in the Asian Art Museum collection, The night journey of the Prophet Muhammad on the heavenly creature Buraq (c. 1800). Mirza has converted a pixelated version of this image into a score, or source code, for his custom-built media system. Visitors enter a darkened room, where they are surrounded by vintage speakers that “play” the score as electrical sounds — buzzing, humming, droning, hissing — and corresponding colored LED lights.
By translating an artwork into a score and the score into electrical impulses in the form of sound, light and color, Mirza allows us to hear, see and even feel art in new ways, raising larger questions about our perceptions of the world around us.
Haroon Mirza has won international acclaim for installations that test the interplay and friction between sound and light waves and electric current. He devises kinetic sculptures, performances and immersive installations, such as The National Apavillion of Then and Now (2011) – an anechoic chamber with a circle of light that grows brighter in response to increasing drone, and completely dark when there is silence. An advocate of interference (in the sense of electro-acoustic or radio disruption), he creates situations that purposefully cross wires. He describes his role as a composer, manipulating electricity, a live, invisible and volatile phenomenon, to make it dance to a different tune and calling on instruments as varied as household electronics, vinyl and turntables, LEDs, furniture, video footage and existing artworks to behave differently. Mirza was born in 1977 in London where he lives and works.