By Liv Johannesson
The thing I like about Lumiere light festival is its focus on art installations. My daily work as an architectural lighting designer does rarely leave room for arty, experimental lighting. Being able to see what todays up-and-coming, as well as established light artists, can achieve can be truly inspiring. The last time Lumiere took place in London in 2016, my main criticism was that it was difficult to see the installations due to the amount of people attending and my impression was that this was in part due to the installations being concentrated to one area. An estimated 1.3 million visited Lumiere that year. This year, the 50 installations were spread out over five central areas, around King’s Cross, in Fritzrovia, in the West End, in Westminster/Victoria, and around South Bank/Waterloo. Artichoke produced the first Lumiere light festival in Durham 2009 and the festival has visited different cities over the years.
The number of people who attend during the cold evenings, shows the general interest in these festivals. It’s a great way to experience art and be wowed by lighting. One of my personal favourites from this year, was Waterlicht by Daan Roosegaarde at Granary Square. The installation highlighted in a poetic way the rising sea levels that threaten to flood our cities in the future. Roosegaarde, from the Netherlands, is a likely candidate for an art installation with this subject; Netherlands, which technically, are already below the sea level. Waterlicht managed to give the impression of moving water above our heads, the ever changing blue light triggering memories of swimming under water. The wave pattern on the façade and the light playing in the tree branches at one end of the square, reminded us that this “water” is not at the level we are used to.
The other personal favourite of mine was Child Hood by Collectif Coin at Trafalgar Square. The luminous balloons which looked like little white hot-air-balloons, were mesmerising in their changing patterns where the music seemed to echo the movement of the light rather than that the light being triggered by the music. That the balloons moved with the wind added another layer to the playful installation. There was a sense of the balloons, acting like a choir; an interplay between a body of individuals who “sing” their part within the larger concert.
I loved Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design, the singing light-seesaws, when I saw them for the first time at Leicester Square a while back. A few of them were installed near Bond Street station and delighted both those brave enough to play on them and those of us that looked on. Spreading the installation out over five areas did have its drawbacks, such as being able to see all of it in one evening. In the areas I concentrated on I enjoyed Guardian Angles by Maro Avrabou and Dimitri Xenakis – colourful, glowing watercans with their trails of fibre optic wire that really looked like water pouring out of them. Voyage by Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein as well as Frictions by Mader Wiermann, were inspiring projections on facades with very different styles. Northern Lights by Aleksandra Stratmirovic at Grosvenor Square made a good attempt at mimicking the Northern lights which is normally best seen in places such as northern Scandinavia.