The skies stay mostly clear above Uluru, also called Ayers Rock, so the sun heats the surrounding Australian desert all day long. Come nightfall, heat radiates upward, out of the ground, into the cool air.
"It really did feel like electricity was coming through the floor of the desert," says UK-based artist Bruce Munro of his 1992 visit to the monolithic formation. Uluru juts over a thousand feet from the flatland desert around it, vivid red sandstone more than a mile across. Munro tried to sketch the feeling he got at Uluru; the image that really stuck was a garden of lights coming out of the ground.
The image blossomed into reality in 2004, at his family home in Wiltshire, England. The installation is called "Field of Light," a site-specific expanse of fiber-optic and LED-lit "plants" that light up for a few hours after sunset. Since, he's staged it all over the world — including at Uluru, in 2016. It's one of his oldest pieces, one he's shown frequently over the past 13 years.
"I'm interested firstly in traveling it around the world as much as I can because, look, we're in shitty times at the moment," he says. "These simple interventions are an opportunity to say 'be positive, love life, and try and focus on the better things rather than the shit things.'"
On July 1, "Field of Light" will come to Green Mountain Falls, one of two installations Munro will contribute to the Green Box Arts Festival. The week-long arts fest also features live music, silversmithing demos, dance and cooking classes, and more.
Munro's other installation is called "Tepee," which consists of several tepee-shaped structures made from colored fluorescent tubes, each sporadically flashing light.
"[It was] inspired more by process," Munro says — specifically, a way to scare off foxes that were eating his wife's chickens. A farmer showed him how to hook old fluorescent tubes up to electric fences so that every three seconds, when a charge moves through the fence, they flash.
"This was before LEDs were common currency, so there were literally millions of redundant fluorescent tubes in landfills," he says. "I liked the idea that we could repurpose it into something else."
"Tepee" came together in its current form at a 2013 exhibition at the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in Nashville, Tennessee. Munro says the form isn't a commentary on anything, just a convenient way to structure the "blizzard of light" the piece produces.
Munro will also display an installation at the Fine Arts Center starting July 2. Titled Thank You for a Very Enjoyable Game, it's a multimedia depiction of the chess match between characters HAL 9000 and Dr. Frank Poole in the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. A wall of colored chessboards shows each movement of the pieces. Each square on the board also corresponds to a note, and an audio soundtrack periodically chimes out to aurally illustrate the match.