‘The Air We Swim In’ at Bric House

Touching the void: New Fort Greene exhibition makes art out of the intangible

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Let there be light!

A performance at the opening of a new exhibition at Fort Greene’s Bric House is set to light up the stage — literally — with a performer donning a bouquet of light bulbs, which will brighten and dim as the wearer breaths. The piece, titled “Stuff of Life One,” is inspired by fireflies, whose light patterns can sync up in a group, said the artist behind the piece.

“If human beings had a light indicator of some of their vital signs, would they sync up like the fireflies?” said Hanny Ahern, who works out of a collaborative studio in East Flatbush. “That was the initial idea and it evolved.”

Ahern’s illuminating work is part of “The Air We Swim In,” an exhibit of four artists focusing on intangible and invisible elements in the air around us, such as radio waves and microscopic particles.

“The artists are trying to explain the unseen,” said Kelly Schroer, the exhibition’s curator. “What is in between.”

Ahern’s piece will be performed in person on at the July 9 opening of the show. It will then be shown on video for the rest of the exhibit’s run, which will be on display at the art space through Aug. 31. The live performance will run for 20 minutes, and repeat several times throughout the evening.

“It won’t be like a music performance with a beginning and end,” said Ahern.

On July 30, there will be another live performance from Manhattan artist Thessia Machado, who will play music using hand-made and modified instruments.

Machado also has an interactive piece at the exhibit, which uses two simple oscillator circuits to simultaneously translate a signal into sound and image. It is made from discarded electronics such as old PalmPilots, and has three light sensors audiences can activate using either a flashlight or touch, manipulating the sound and screen.

“It is using the screens in a way they weren’t designed for,” said Machado.

The mixture of technology and art makes for an exhibition that strikes a balance between complexity and simplicity, said Schroer.

“It feels very balanced,” she said. “There’s sound; there’s light. It’s very simple and profound at the same time.”

“The Air We Swim In” at Bric House Project Room [647 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, (718) 683–5600,], July 10–Aug. 31. Opening reception July 9 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
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