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Light Research @ MMU

Fête by Ron Haselden at Durham Lumiere

I visted Durham’s Lumiere  last weekend, at present Britain’s largest light festival. The stunning medieval setting of Durham provides a magificent setting for the numerous lighting installations scattered across the town, ranging from locations in parks, modernist architecture and public squares.

This year, the light works were extremely diverse. Large scale projections of the ancient Lindisfarne manuscripts lit up the amazing cathedral and a trumpeting African elephant bestrode the old Elvet Bridge. For me, however, highlights included Raphael Lozano-Hemmer’s giant helium ballon Solar Equation,  Aquarium, a red telephone box converted into an illuminated home for fish, a display of lit plastic bags as street decorations and the constituents of a ‘consumerist’ Christmas tree that highlighted the effective simplicity of illuminating everyday objects, and Sanctuary, Sarah Blood’s bizarre neon nesting boxes located in the trees of St Oswald’s Churchyard with  accompanying recordings of  bird sounds performed by humans.

Lumiere - Aquarium













Lumiere - consumerists decorations


Lumiere - Solar Equation



Lumiere - nestbox

My favourite was Ron Haselden’s Fête, located on a rather lonely stretch of parkland adjacent to the River Wear that runs through the city. Strings of carnival lightbulbs switch on and off in sequence, accompanied by alternating snatches of fairground music emanating from speakers located around the display.  The installation evocatively conjured up the atmosphere of an abandoned or closing fairground, heavy and sharp with nostalgia.

A close second was the rather unheralded [M]ondes located in the inside of the cathedral by Roland Devocelle and Audrey Rocher, collectively known as Atsara. Above the nave, flickers of light appear, move and vanish, akin to fireflies. The setting added to the mysterious quality of these unphotographable evanescent, fluid installations that appeared out of darkness and swiftly disappeared.

Fete Lumiere










November 21st, 2013 - 11:59am