Pieke Bergmans exhibited Phenomeneon, a series of blue neon lights in varying widths and unexpected shapes that posed the question, “Why do neon lights always come in a regular tube shape?”
“Initially I thought changing the widths of the tubes might not be possible,” she says, “but then I discovered that neon light fades when the diameter of the tube becomes wider.” The result is a series of fantastic, irregular shapes that shine brighter or dimmer depending on the widths of the hand-blown glass pipes. “I think these objects intrigue people because the light and shapes are so soft and a bit mystic,” says Bergmans. “Nowadays not many people simply stare at anything for very long, especially in Eindhoven where there are many technical people. I loved that people stopped and wondered about how it works.”
Thanks to her characteristically investigative approach, Bergman’s materials, whether glass, plastic, or ceramic, take center stage. The same holds true for neon light, which she studied in depth for her recent series Phenomeneon. Bergmans plays with the phenomenon of inert gases – all essentially colorless – emitting light when subjected to a voltage under compression in a relatively small space. As soon as the gas is able to expand, the light grows dimmer, and seems to vanish. Bergmans had glassblowers produce organically shaped, variable diameter tubes, which she filled with the noble gas argon. The effect is mesmerizing: blue neon lines, drawn in space as though by a paintbrush, move about freely, lighting up, or suddenly fading away.
Glass, neon, electrical elements