Confluence- the brainchild of the artist Sean Van Der Poel- is most notable not for what it presents but how it presents.
BY Farzaneh Pishro
The chances are that you have already seen Confluence on social media- an interactive art installation in South Perth from 8th-11th of March. The artwork was simple but mesmerising. An area of Saint James’ Mitchell Park was filled with obscure, funky purple lanterns that glow in the night- big conical shapes rising out of the verdant ground, with a soft pillow-like surface that would flicker and illuminate as you approached them. They responded to touch by illuminating your path using to the sensors installed inside them, invisible to the audience’s eye. The cones had different sizes and curves, giving a randomised natural look as if they were alien plants in a bizarre, unknown planet. Together they formed a maze of purple walls you could walk through, wondering about their warm yet strange purple shapes.
Conceived as a dream-like dimension rising out of the surrounding landscape.
People were welcome to touch and play with the purple cones, to run through them on the grassy field, to sleep beneath them or just walk their dog around the overwhelmingly bizarre lights. In either case, the art was as approachable as it could be, luring its audience to a more communal experience. Confluence, the brainchild of the artist Sean Van Der Poel, is most notable not for what it presents but how it presents. The way Confluence is constructed evokes a sense of friendliness as well as peculiarity- like your first encounter with fluffy alien monsters in Monsters, Inc. There is wonder and amazement, but there’s also a strong feeling of comfort facilitated by it’s dreamy form.
Confluence was positioned against the skyline of the massive buildings on the other side of river. This position signals how the cones mimic the tall edifices on the CBD side of the river, and mirror their glowing light. Just like the lights of the city buildings, the cones were illuminated only after the sunset. The symmetry between the two objects- Perth city and its twisted caricature- was intriguing in that it indicated a connection between the urban space and the dream-like vision.
Confluence was an amusing and overtly peaceful experience. It reflected with crystal clarity that art is not restrained to an individual experience in galleries, but can also be experienced joyfully in a public space.