Rainbows are a rarity during Cambodia’s coolest months of December and January, but multi-disciplinary artist Vuth Lyno has conceptualised one of his own that he says represents diversity and unity and brought it into being at Odom Garden on Norodom Boulevard using clever and skillful technical artistry that reveals the full spectrum of colours through sunlight and water droplets.
Lyno is an internationally known artist whose works have been exhibited across the globe and span a wide array of different media and forms including photography, film, sculpture, light, sound design and experiential art installations. He’s also a founder of the Stiev Selapak art collective and the co-owner of Sa Sa Art Projects.
“I want to create something that is untouchable. I want to bring people from diverse backgrounds and the LGBT community together with a splendorous thing that occurs from nature’s elements. We hope to have it ready to share with the public by the end of this year,” Lyno told The Post in an interview last September.
Lyno followed through on his plans and his rainbow installation premiered on December 11 and the rainbows he has managed to create are vividly coloured and startling in their immediacy. These aren’t the hazy and far-off rainbows one occasionally glimpses after a storm on a sunny day. These rainbows appear right in front of you and almost appear to be solid objects rather than refracted light.
Lyno says that seeing his vision – entitled Indadhanu, which means rainbow in Khmer – fully realised is unbelievably surreal. Visitors to the installation describe it with words like “magical” and “unbelievable” or sometimes just “crazy” as it manages to defy all of their expectations.
The installation is something you should definitely see in person to experience fully. Photos of it like those presented here give you an idea of what it’s like but they can only capture the experience incompletely.
“I like surprising people. For this project I wanted to create art that allows people to experience magic and beauty that transcend age, gender, identity, culture, beliefs and interests and does so in a way that feels personal.
“I want to create art that is relatable to all human beings. By re-creating the natural and meteorological phenomenon of a rainbow—which usually becomes visible in the sky on a misty or rainy day—inside the confined space of a garden allows this magical experience to take place right next to us,” Lyno says.
Reflecting back on what inspired him to create this installation in the first place, Lyno says that earlier this year he was sitting in a garden and he began to think about nature and how all people love nature and are drawn to the qualities of it such as beauty and harmony.
He then got to thinking about how he could recreate something from nature or with natural qualities in his artwork. He thought about rainbows as a natural phenomenon because of its importance as a symbol for the LGBT human rights movement and how it has also been used in other contexts to represent diversity because its colours shows how sunlight is actually made up of different wavelengths of visible light that are unified until reflected, refracted and dispersed through droplets of water, revealing light’s true nature.
“Everyone knows rainbows. Everyone appreciates rainbows. So what if I can bring a rainbow into being at will and what if people can interact with that rainbow? A rainbow is beautiful because of its diverse colours and it’s also beautiful because those colours always stay together side-by-side and always appear in the same order and at the same angle.
“I want people to think about be inspired by the qualities of a rainbow. Differences and solidarity. I want our society to embraces these two principles,” says Lyno.
A rainbow is visible in the sky when sunlight hits water droplets from rain or mist at certain angles. Lyno re-creates these conditions for Indadhanu with the help of his colleague Prum Ero who worked on the technical aspects of the water shower system and lighting.
“While I was planning this out I talked with people at Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) and they loved the idea. We thought it fit very well with the upcoming ‘I accept’ campaign that RoCK and partners are working on to advocate for marriage equality and rights for Cambodian LGBT+ people. We want to remind people that like a rainbow, we are all parts of a diverse spectrum of humanity,” Lyno says.
Lyno ended up deciding to use the Indadhanu installation idea that he was dreaming up as a means to help promote the “I accept” campaign and it was created with the support of RoCK, the Canadian Embassy and Odom Garden.
The installation works naturally at sunrise and sunset when the sunlight hits the water provided by the sprinkler system with everything arranged just right to produce a visually striking rainbow.
At night people can see the rainbows using an artificial lighting system which is activated along with the sprinkler system by attendees at the press of a button Lyno says the magic and beauty of rainbows is made possible when the elements of water and light come together under the right conditions.
“And society can only be beautiful and strong when people come together in solidarity regardless of differences and that can only be done fully under one condition: Equal rights. Then we can build our community and society together with plurality and unity,” Lyno says.
Anything worth succeeding at always comes with challenges and creating this installation was new territory for Lyno in terms of medium and techniques, though the knowledge required to create the optical illusion of a rainbow is easily acquired and anyone can do it once they understand the conditions that cause rainbows to appear.
After that it’s just a question of doing some experimenting to figure out how to get the best visual result. The artificial lighting used to create the rainbows at night was more difficult to get right because there’s nothing more powerful than sunlight so the rainbows created that way aren’t quite as impressive as what appears during the day.
Lyno says he likes to use his artwork to connect with people and to encourage them so he has a challenge going where anyone who takes a photo of themselves with the rainbows at the installation and posts it on Facebook or Instagram with the #IAccept hashtag will be eligible to win prizes from RoCK.
If you visit the installation between the hours of 6:00pm and 10:00pm just find the green button to activate the rain and the light, but if you arrive between 3:40pm and 4:40pm then the sunlight provides the necessary illumination.
“Our whole idea for this campaign is all about uplifting people to encourage them to love and value both differences and solidarity at the same time. Rainbows are symbolic of that ideal and the installation gives people a way to experience – at the push of a button – the beauty of the rainbow that makes it such a powerful and universal symbol,” he says.
The Indadhanu installation will be open daily through January 9 at Odom Garden and the prize winners will be announced on January 15.
“This artwork is meant to transcend borders and differences. I wanted to create something that gives people a special experience of something beautiful that is otherwise only encountered very rarely, fleetingly and by chance. Everyone sees beauty in a rainbow, it’s a universal feeling. When you can inspire the same feelings at the same time in a diverse group of individuals it promotes empathy between them and I hope Indadhanu does exactly that,” says Lyno.
If you’d like to visit Lyno’s installation Indadhanu it is open to the public daily from 8am to 10pm at Odom Garden located at 160-158 Norodom Boulevard.