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Light Research @ MMU

Matlock Bath Illuminations 2015

Matlock Bath Illuminations run each weekend throughout early September to late October. Attracting around 100,000 visitors annually to this small Victorian holiday resort in England’s Peak District, the central attraction of the event is a parade of locally designed illuminated and decorated boats. Throngs of spectators crowd each bank of the wooded valley of the River Derwent. On the side that lies adjacent to the town, a fairground and food stalls cater to the thousands of visitors, while the other side is arboreal and darker. At an assigned time, the ten or eleven boats, all made by members of the Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders’ Association, move into position and one by one turn on their lights as their designers row down the river.Matlock Dr Who

The event was first held to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and to honour these earlier displays, a candle-lit boat continues to make its way down the Derwent at the start of the parade. The illuminations on the boats are primarily created via simple bulbs and LEDs, some animated, are powered by lorry batteries, and are co-ordinated to evoke designs drawn from popular culture. They utterly transform what is by day a romantic riverside walk, their bright lights reflecting in the dark waters, seeming to glide past independently.The designs are judged and the winning boat is awarded the Arkwright Cup.Matlock Eiffel Tower

For 2015, the victor was Mickey’s Steam Boat, a design featuring Mickey Mouse and his paddle steamer. Other designs included the Eiffel Tower, a space ship battle, Postman Pat, the Batmobile, and a Tardis and Dalek from Dr Who. This vernacular festival highlights the innovations and creative energies of those who use lighting to create vernacular, festive designs, creations about which this blog is particularly enthusiastic  Matlock Thunderbird

October 25th, 2015 - 19:04pm

Skedanoz, Carnac, 2015

Carnac 3Wandering the streets of Carnac on the south coast of Brittany for two days to find out the time and exact place of the ‘Skedanoz’ demonstrated that this event had received limited local publicity. All we knew was that July 9th 2015 was the opening night of a month of illuminations at the Neolithic standing stones of Carnac. This was to be one of six scheduled events across France joining with the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. It made sense to assume that it would begin around sunset – but where? Around 1,100 stones form the Ménec alignment which is just one of a number of mégalithic sites in this area totalling approximately 3,000 stones.

Carnac 1

Naturally there are a multitude of myths and a range of theories that contribute to explanations of why they are there and how they came to be. We returned at sundown to find a modest crowd of local Carnacois and a few other tourists gathered in the warm evening air at the top of the site alongside some of the tallest stones at Ménec (up to 4 metres in height). Now backlit by the setting sun, the lanterns were accompanied by a projection and speaker system obtrusively visible at the edge of the field where we spectators gathered to witness an orchestrated 20 minute show where a family-friendly narrative supplemented the movement of the lights as the ‘show’ began. A history of Carnac, interspersed with fact and myth about the mégalithic stones, was being dramatically retold through the voice of French comedian Patrick Joliot.

Carnac 2

Choreographed, computer generated animations danced and pulsed across the stones projecting multiple colours, criss-crossed lined patterns, and occasionally plunging the site into darkness bar one solitary-lit stone. The pace at which the lights changed was varied and the addition of the narration created a sense of mystery and anticipation. During the day we had seen the whole site from this point at the top of the hill but now, as the sun set and the sky changed colour from cerulean blue, to pink, orange, and to black, the colours projected onto selected stones created a completely new way of experiencing the alignment and entering the night-time.

Thanks to Louise Kenyon

September 15th, 2015 - 15:45pm

Burning away the Winter Blues in Yukon

burningweb1

 

On 22nd of March this year, in a part of the world where winter throws darkness across space for a prolonged period of time, the Whitehorse community in Yukon, staged a festival devised by the Yukon Educational Theatre to celebrate the impending end of winter and the advent of Spring,  the 17th Burning Away the Winter Blues. burningweb3

As the seasons turn, people are invited to join a torch-lit procession along the Yukon River, with drumming, singing and effigies created by individuals and local artists. The marchers subsequently congregate around a bonfire upon which the effigies are thrown along with the winter blues of the participants, written on pieces of paper and collected in blue paper bags, and follow this with dancing and celebrations. http://yukoneducationaltheatre.com/#burning-away-the-winter-blues (Thanks to Paul Davis)burningweb12

 

April 7th, 2015 - 14:26pm

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

Moonraking 2015

Moonraking crane and moonLast Saturday (21st February)  marked the 30th anniversary of Slaithwaite’s Moonraking Festival, a charming event written about on this blog two years ago. The Moon was, as usual, hauled out of the canal on crane to take its position at the head of the procession around the village. This year, there seemed more lanterns than ever before, created to evoke the annual theme of landmarks. The parade produced the most surreal sight of a bobbing sea of famous destinations, including the Statue of Liberty,Taj Mahal, Angel of the North  and Sydney Opera House. Moonraking Angel

The fabulous lanterns were augmented by a beautiful winter house and an array of lanterns that formed a likeness of version of Stonehenge, called Moonhenge. Once more, the festival involved large sections of the community and transformed the nocturnal environment.

     Photos by Kim Kotharimoonraking houseMoonhenge

February 24th, 2015 - 17:31pm

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