Lucid flora and LED forests: Submerge yourself in Pipilotti Rist’s Sip My Ocean at the MCA

Take a dip into Pipilotti Rist’s Sip My Ocean while the Museum of Contemporary Art lends its entire third floor to the hypnotising exhibition as part of the Sydney International Art Series this summer.

Sip My Ocean showcases a spectrum of audio-visual enchantment featuring early videos to large-scale installations from the pioneering Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist. These immersive and colourful projections explore the relationship between the environment, the human body and technology.

The exhibition, the most comprehensive display of Rist’s work in Australia to date, allows viewers to wander through a LED forest, drift through a maze of swaying fabric or lay back on a bed and watch the ceiling come alive.

pipilotti rist sip my ocean museum of contemporary art australia
All images courtesy Pipilotti Rist/MCA. Photo: Linda Nylind

Rist’s work is fluid in nature, capturing the heart and intellect that sustains all humans. Accordingly, you’ll find it easy to lose an afternoon amongst Sip My Ocean.

A most treasured piece of the exhibit is proving to be Pixelwald Motherboard (Pixelforest Mutterplatte) (2016). Produced in collaboration with Kaori Kuwabara, this installation resembles a forest of hanging lights. 3,000 LED lights to be exact.

Viewers can walk on a path under the lights, draping and dangling like vines in a jungle. Each sculptural LED is operated by a video signal responding to music from corresponding artwork, lending a pulsating heart to the exhibition.

Photo: Lena HublerPipilotti

Other key works include Rist’s early dual-channel video projections Sip my Ocean (1996) and Ever is Over All (1997). Viewers are also invited to explore a warren of floating fabric as part of Administrating Eternity (2011); cosy up on cushions to watch Lobe of the Lung (2009); or lean back on one of 18 beds and gaze upon 4th Floor to Mildness (2016).

At the core of Rist’s work is a reference to new media. Sip My Ocean is no different, as innovative technology is used to configure unique representations of the world around us. Her artwork is never simply stated but plastered across monitors, walls, floors and ceilings. This practice may be drawn from the artist’s coming-of-age alongside the birth of MTV, at a time where television infiltrated every living room.

Photo: Jessica Maurer

Exhibition curator, Natasha Bullock says that: “Pipilotti Rist brings ideas and feelings together, and does so through the prism of video. Her imaginary worlds carve a unique vision, with all the attendant depth and weight of painting – an art form that has culturally sustained us, and our imaginations, for centuries.”

“Rist, however paints with lights, cameras and keyboards.”

Pipilotti Rist: Sip My Ocean is running at the MCA until February 18.