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Leonard Băcica

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Lumiere Festival – light in public spaces

February 2, 2018
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This January, London hosted the Lumiere festival, a series of urban light installations centered around the idea of art in public spaces.

Lumiere began in Durham in 2015, a initiative of Artichoke, an NGO specialized in temporary artistic installations. After a resounding success in the north, Lumiere came to London in 2016 and its first edition attracted over 1.3 million viewers. This year’s edition, taking place between 18-21 January, was the biggest yet, with 54 light installations of various sizes spread around six central areas, all of them having normally heavy footfalls, both locals and tourists. The idea behind the festival is to bring art as close as possible to the people, to make it accessible, but also to open a dialogue about the forms and purposes of art and about the way we live or use the public spaces and landmark buildings.

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                                                          photo Leonard Bacica

We often say ‘seeing in a new light’ or ‘bringing to light’ something. This is just one way to see how important the visual element and the light is in our daily lives, and the more technology advances, the more we come to rely on artificial light. However, only a small portion of the wide public acknowledges the importance of the design, build and use of artificial light and how much it affects us. Giving over 1 million people the chance to see landmarks from a new perspective over a weekend, Lumiere Festival is trying to change this.

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                                                          photo Leonard Bacica

The installations vary from projections over grafittis to LED portals along walking paths; from static installations normally used as public lights to interactive works; from minimal – such as the South Bank Bottle Festoon – to the monumental – such as the video-mapping of the whole height of Westminster Abbey facade.

  • Harmonic Portal by Chris Plant
    Harmonic Portal by Chris Plant
    Photograph: Paul Brown/REX/Shutterstock
  • LBO LichtBankObjekte
    LBO LichtBankObjekte
    Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
  • Waterlicht
    Waterlicht
    Photograph: Paul Brown/REX/Shutterstock
  • Illumaphonium by Michael Davis
    Illumaphonium by Michael Davis
    Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • Reflektor by Studio Roso in St James’s Market
    Reflektor by Studio Roso in St James’s Market
    Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design
    Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design
    Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • The Wave by Vertigo
    The Wave by Vertigo
    Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA
  •  Lampounette by TILT
    Lampounette by TILT
    Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
  • Photograph: Jack Dredd/REX/Shutterstock
  • Nightlife by the Lantern Company
    Nightlife by the Lantern Company
    Photograph: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

It is likely that as the festival grows in size, illustrating the latest technologial developments in lighting will become more and more important, and it is to be expected that more and more artists will get on board in exploring new ways to translate technological progress into public use. For more details on the festival and for a detailed description of each installation, you can check out the official website. And if you’re planning to visit London and aim to take full advantage of what the city has to offer, make a mental note of Lumiere. The festival is in January, incidentally the best month for buying cheap plane tickets.

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