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Light Research @ MMU

Natural Forms in the City: Shells, Reefs, Trees and Dandelions at Leeds Light Night

On the 6th and 7th of October, with over 60 events across the city over two nights, the crowded streets revealed how much Leeds Light Night’s audiences enjoy the range of installations, projections and happenings on show. With  something for everyone, whether the lantern parade tradition or grand digital spectacle, this year’s programme was packed full of family-friendly, outdoor fun.

Setting an event against the night-sky might aim to fill it with light. I found the opposite attractive:  I was taken in by small scale and natural form more than the larger pieces.

spark

On a dry, clear night.The Handmade Lantern parade launched the festival with a water-inspired theme. Hundreds of people had lovingly made and wielded their own aquatic lanterns, complemented by large showpiece designs; conch shells-on-stilts, an animated tortoise and surreal fish riding bicycles. Lantern bearers were joined by thousands of onlookers who jostled for views or ran alongside the parade. The playfulness of the crowd melded with the striking drum patterns provided by World Beaters and their Spark! Show which led the parade through the bustling city centre, attracting more people as it moved along.

indestructible-reef

The Indestructible Reef, by Alison M Smith exuded much charm if you relaxed for a few minutes in its glowing company.  The work is made from re-cycled plastic and solicited consideration of all that subterranean wonders currently so appallingly threatened across our oceans. The lush and loving detail in this piece were juxtaposed with warnings of global reef collapse.

giant-dandelions

The Giant Dandelions at Merrion Gardens took a bit longer to woo me. At 7.30pm they were a pretty playground for young families, and happy as I was to  enjoy the atmosphere they inspired, I was after a more intense experience. When I walked through three hours later, I was rewarded for my patience; they had seemingly grown in size in glowing against the darker sky of the later hour. The illuminated St. Johns Church had also loomed into the night sky to provide a theatrical back-drop, and a late-night audience now contemplated life within a forest of lustrous orbs.

apparatus-florius

Having earlier chatted briefly to Tom Dykevere, I was intrigued at how his enthusiastic energy and worldly openness might personify his installation, Apparatus Florius. Designed for Park Square, it created a geometric structure which intersected the natural form of trees by connecting them with high-viz ropes illuminated with spotlights. An abstract soundscape, syncopated with choreographed lighting, created a mystical conversation within an intimate arboreal canopy.

Torn by the opposing need to to rush around to see as much as possible and the desire to relax into the experience, I was glad to find serenity in the pieces I saw.

By Gail Skelly

October 10th, 2016 - 21:39pm

Voice Array: Lozano-Hemmer in Blackpool

Blackpool’s Grundy Gallery (http://www.grundyartgallery.com/) recently inititated an annual exhibition of light-related art that will synchronize with the two months of the year when the resort displays its traditional lluminations. The exhibition, Sensory Systems, featured fantastic work by  renowned light artists Angela Bulloch, Anthony McCall, Conrad Shawcross and Ann Veronica Jansenns. The gallery is small but the show generated  much excitement, especially the extraordinary Voice Array (2011) shown by  a fifth artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. In a bare, rectangular room, visitors were invited to shout, scream, relate a sentence or make any vocal noise into a microphone placed adjacent to the entrance to the room. This sparked a subsequent repetitive recording of this utterance, which corresponded with  the flashing of a light close by at about shoulder height.

hemmerThereafter, this brilliant white light moved along a horizontal band  that encompassed the whole of the room, and as it did so, the recording merged with a growing array of previous pronouncements to progressively create an accumulating medley of sound, the extending light pulsing in response. At the end of the journey, the travelling illumination has accompanied the cumulative sound of the 288 vocal interjections that constitute the piece. Yet the addition of one more contribution means that the last recorded utterance must disappear forever. Accordingly, upon completing its voyage around the room, the light briefly ceases, and this sound is heard for the last time in isolation. So it is that one can participate as part of a shifting community of gallery visitors, with separate contributions each translated into flashes of light and compressed together in time and space. Astonishing.

December 5th, 2015 - 19:49pm

Two special issues: ‘Geographies of Darkness’ and ‘Sensing and Perceiving with Light and Dark’

Two special issues of academic journals have been published in the last few weeks, both edited by Tim Edensor at MMU.

Firstly, Cultural Geographies features a themed issue on ‘Geographies of Darkness’. http://cgj.sagepub.com/content/current

Pip Thornton elaborates on her work as a soldier on the Iraq battlefield and the her experience of the British Military deployment of lighting, night vision equipment and darkness. These strategies exemplify the lop-sided power relations between the two forces on the battlefield. Pip’s work is previously featured on this blog: http://www.lightresearch.mmu.ac.uk/light-discipline-bodies-and-power-on-the-battlefield. Robert Shaw discusses how darkness in the home may be experienced positively or negatively, may be a source of insecurity but also a condition that fosters intimacy, conviviality and an oppenness to the other. Also featured on this blog is Tim Edensor and Emily Falconer’s research at Dans Le Noir, the London restaurant that invites people to dine in the dark: http://www.lightresearch.mmu.ac.uk/dans-le-noir. Again, darkness is  ambivalent, enhancing the taste of food, soliciting social interaction and providing a sense of mystery and imagination for some; a site of confusion and peril for others. Oliver Dunnett focuses upon the moral geographies that have been mobilized in the establishment of dark sky parks in the UK, and foreground an ‘astronomical sublime’ and the desirability of the rural in opposition to the urban. Finally, Phillip Vannini and Jonathan Taggart look at how Canadian off-gridders  who move away from modern living to dwell in the wilderness , must generate their own source of illumination using modest technologies that only provide some light and necessitate a more habitual encounter with the gloom that has been banished from most cities.

Secondly, The Senses and Society features a special issue on ‘Sensing and Perceiving with Light and Dark’ which focuses upon various forms of Light Art. http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rfss20/10/2

Tim Edensor looks at the work of James Turrell, Carlos Cruz Diez, Olafur Eliasson and Tino Seghal, all of whose work is discussed more briefly on this blog. Harriet Hawkins explores the sensuous light art of Pipilotti Rist through a feminist lens, and Shanti Sumartojo and Sarah Barns investigate the atmospheres produced at a projection event on the buildings at Australia’s National niversity in Canberra. Johanne Sloan explores the impact of three light works: Michel de Broin’s giant mirrorball suspended above the streets of Paris, Phillip Parreno’s nostalgic cinematic marquees, and the illuminated lanterns of Weppler and Mahovsky that masqueraded as commodities in the shop fronts of a Toronto street. Elena Papadaki focuses upon Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s extraordinary’ Under Scan’, situated in Trafalgar Square, that used powerful lights to produce shadows of passers-by into which were projected the images of other people, as well as Gregory Markopoulos’ ‘Eniaios’, a film projected onto a vast screen situated in a dark Greek Valley. Finally, Joni Palmer elaborates upon the more vernacular creation of a Glass Garden in New Mexico that reflects the light of this luminous landscape, as featured in an earlier entry on this blog: http://www.lightresearch.mmu.ac.uk/ardell-scartaccini-new-mexico-glass-garden

 

 

 

October 19th, 2015 - 14:53pm

Luminous skate park in Liverpool

Developing a sustainable and innovative approach to urban design and leisure provision,  Koo Jeong A has devised Evertro, a luminous skate park in Everton Park, Liverpool. The design incorporates the fluid slopes necessary for skaters and cyclists to play upon with a shapely sculptural form. Luminous material makes the installation available to skatyers and onlookers at all times of the day and night:

Evertro launch event at Everton Park. The Glow in the dark skateboard park was officially opened by Mayor Joe Anderson as children and adults flocked down to skate,bike and join in the fun. Artist Koo Jeong A was on hand for photographs while MP Steve Rotherham had a go at skateboarding.  Images by Gareth Jones

 

http://www.biennial.com/collaborations/wheels-park.  Thanks to Jo Hudson for drawing this to my attention

October 13th, 2015 - 15:30pm

Community Light Installations Brighten Up the Season of Darkness in Finland

In their Light Castle Project, artists Anne Salmela and Anna Turunen create light installations in cooperation with the residents of different housing communities. The aim of the project is to bring art into the public realm, and into our everyday life, closer to the members of the community while also creating art pieces that can be enjoyed by every passer-by in the midst of the darkest season of the year. The light installations executed in shared city space turn familiar neighbourhoods into new environments. These art works transform familiar places into colourful and magical environments as lights, colours and pictures chosen by occupants of the participating houses are shared with the local community through their windows. The installations produce new encouLight Castle of Heikinlinnanters and experiences, as well as an opportunity for the public to catch a glimpse of the private world of the participating community.
In ‘Light Castle’, the participants choose a theme or a colour that pleases them, working together with the artists and in consultation with their family. Often, simply the choice of a colour proves to be surprisingly important. The actual construction is preceded by a long process of conceiving and planning the design with the occupants. In addition to coloured lights, installations includes moving images, such as the occupants’ videos about their hobbies, sporting enthusiasms or musical passions, or aspects of nature and photographs from their own albums. Light Castle of SampolaThe windows also features drawings by the occupants and messages that spill out onto staircases, as well as experimental features such as installations created by neighbours that were in dialogue with each other. The first Light Castle was made by Salmela and Turunen in Pori, Finland 2012. Since that, they have continued with their project in other cities. Blog: http://valolinna.net/
Posted by Anne Salmela and Anna TurunenLight Castle participants

March 23rd, 2015 - 18:53pm

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