Spring Break Family Fun: Dreamy, Immersive Installations Now Open at MFAH

Spring Break Family Fun: Dreamy, Immersive Installations Now Open at MFAH

View of Pipilotti Rist installations (photo by The Storyhive)

NO DOUBT YOU’VE noticed your kids’ schoolteachers grinning from ear-to-ear today, which means spring break is upon us, and the time is right for the young and young at heart to head to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for the return of Pipilotti Rist’s dreamy, thoroughly immersive light and video installations, Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish. Both works opened this weekend and will stay up through Labor Day.


Pixel Forest (2016) was custom fabricated by Rist and her collaborator Kaori Kuwabara to fit the square footage of the museum’s Cullinan Hall. It consists of 3,000 LED lights encased in resin spheres and hung on cables dangling from the ceiling like tendrils from tree tops in an electric rainforest. The lights change constantly — sometimes gradually, and other times suddenly — bathing visitors in unpredictable yet soothing waves of color as they stroll through the environment.

Meanwhile, Worry Will Vanish (2014) is a two-channel video projected on the South and West walls of Cullinan Hall of recognizable and occasionally unrecognizable images of the human body, both outside and inside, morphing into similarly mysterious and digitally manipulated footage of leaves, oceans, and stars. The video’s soundtrack is a pleasant combination of straightforward folk guitar strumming; squeaks and squeals from a variety of unnamed insects and mammals; and padded synths, giving the installation the vibe of a chill-out room at a rave.

Regarding her work, Rist says, “I am interested in the combination of nature and technology; these are not two different things.” Is there a difference between a light-emitting diode and a sunbeam as it passes through foliage and transforms the colors we see? For those willing to contemplate such questions, the MFAH has provided pillows on which to recline and revel in how Rist is able to transform a basic gallery space into a galaxy of light and sound.

A father and daughter viewing Rist's installations (photo by The Storyhive)

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