The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at
The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at

Making ‘Borrowed Light’

In the latest of our Level G commissions, we invite you to experience a sunset whatever the time of day with Troika’s installation, Borrowed Light, which resembles an artificial infinite loop of sunset and sunrise. We catch up with Troika, the artists behind the installation.

What was the inspiration behind Borrowed Light ?

The 24m scroll of photographic film was formally inspired by moving panoramas and immersive optical and visual media, while the array of colours printed onto the film, and the infinitely shifting spectrum created by the overlapping colours, refers to an artificial loop of sunset and sunrise.

Moving panoramas were amongst the first immersive technologies that toyed with perceptual certainty blurring the boundaries between natural and man-made spaces. As artists, we are interested in the changes that technology has brought about and how these changes continuously influence our conceptions of space, time and culture.

What was the creative process behind Borrowed Light?

The initial idea revolved around an eternal scroll of a sunset with no specific medium in mind. The Lightwell seemed perfect location to take this idea further. When we have settled on a location we then use digital tools, 3d programs, renderings and simulation softwares alongside hand, then machine made models.

As artists, we are interested in the changes that technology has brought about

In the ‘real’ world the spatial and perceptual relationship between the work and you are different. Material is therefore important in our work, in terms of meaning, associations and impression. Here we used film, rather then another material, for its inherent meaning and link to cinematic media.

In the virtual world everything can potentially be rendered, everything is interchangeable, and there is little or at least a very different space for surprise. Here, our best digital model didn’t prepare us for the liquid appearance of the moving film and the fluctuating materiality of ‘Borrowed Light’.

This will be very personal experience for each and everyone

How did you incorporate Borrowed Light into the unique features of the Lightwell?

The Barbican building and its Lightwell is a fantastic location for Borrowed Light as it embeds itself well – we think both formally and conceptually – in the brutalist and utopian architecture.

We decided to use the Lightwell’s full height from the girdles on the very top just below the skylight all the way through the bridge to the lower ground floor, so one could imagine this artificial sunset or colour spectrum penetrating the building and the glass roof. This will be very personal experience for each and everyone.

How do you think technology influences our relationship with art and reality?

Technology changes how art is made, what art is made, how we view and consume art. We are all surrounded by technology. While it is an everyday enabler, it has its challenges. Art and technological development intrinsically linked. Art is always a reaction to societal changes and in a feedback loop propels these changes further.

What’s next for Troika?

We are working on two large scale immersive installations one of which will be premiered in London next year. We are also planning an artist in residency in Oaxaca’s coastal region to start working on an installation that uses moon light.

We are part of a group exhibition ‘Coding the World’ at Centre Pompidou and for those who are in London, have a small collaboration with ROKSANDA on view in Central London showing models for our last sculpture series ‘Compression Loss’.

Watch the making of:

About Troika
Troika is a collaborative contemporary art group formed by Eva Rucki (b. 1976, Germany), Conny Freyer (b.1976, Germany) and Sebastien Noel (b. 1977, France) in 2003.

Troika’s Borrowed Light is on display as part of the Barbican’s Level G programme until May 2019.

Previously known as the foyers, Level G is the Barbican’s public space where visitors can see art for free, relax and enjoy the iconic building. The Level G programme is dedicated to transforming this public space with installations, exhibitions, talks and events.