Art

This Immersive Light Sculpture Simulates a Near-Death Experience

Karolina Halatek's latest sculpture is inspired by the "bright white light" said to accompany near death experiences.

by Masha (Maria) Koblyakova
19 October 2016, 6:35pm

All images courtesy the artist.

Entering Terminal, the latest light installation by Polish artist Karolina Halatek, feels like stepping into another dimension. Perspectives warp and shadows disappear as visitors move through the trippy, glowing tunnel. Created for the Aufstiege by KulturRegion Stuttgart light art festival in Germany, the 2.5-ton sculpture uses 600 meters of LED lights to illuminate its cylindrical interior, suspending viewers in a never ending field of bright white light.

Terminal is inspired by the testimonies of survivors of Near Death Experiences (NDEs). It refers to the space between life and death, a last stop before entering another world. “The title also alludes to a specific notion of time in which—like an airport terminal—there is no longer any rush, and indeed time begins to slow down, to feel frozen,” Halatek tells The Creators Project. This time warp sensation recurs in many accounts of near death experiences. 

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“It seems that in the afterlife, time just doesn't exist,” the artist says. The gigantic light sculpture lets viewers experience what the threshold might feel like, without the accompanying mortal peril. Terminal could easily verge on eerie, but the installation is a peaceful, beautiful exploration of mortality. It incites a strange sense of isolation, though ironically, the glowing tube surrounds whoever stands within it in brilliant white light. 

Halatek is best-known for her transportive light installations. In 2014, she created Scanner Room, an immersive installation that evoked the insides of a celestial copy machine.

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For more work by Karolina Halatek, check out her her website.

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