After watching my mother and grandparents attend a lantern festival in Las Vegas, it reminded me of all of the amazing art pieces that I got to see in January for Lumiere. I wanted to take a little bit of time to talk about some of my the pieces that I saw on both of the days that I walked around the city and why I liked the festival so much. So here’s my list of favorites, in no particular order:
- Waterlicht (King’s Cross). This display was supposed to be inspired by water, and the laser lights that rolled like waves overhead, combined with the fog machines and the surreal ambience of the music, made it feel like I was swimming in the sea of some alien planet. This area was as awe-inspiring as it was calming. Maybe that’s because being reminded of something bigger and more influential than yourself (in this case, one of the elements) isn’t always frightening–sometimes it’s reassuring.
- Aquarium (Soho). For some reason, I was convinced that the phone booth just contained a projection of fish, but no, there were actual goldfish bobbing about inside this famous London object! It was hard to get good pictures of this one since there was a giant crowd when we went, but I loved the whimsy of taking something ordinary and making people want to take a closer look at it.
- IFO (Identified Flying Object) (King’s Cross). Elisa and I headed to this giant birdcage as the first stop of the night, and I instantly loved it because it featured a usable swing in the middle, making it one of the most interactive exhibits that I came across. The interesting thing was that the outside of this birdcage was illuminated in shifting colors, but the inside was a boring gray–perhaps to suggest that metaphorical cages can look beautiful from the inside but dull on the inside? Maybe that’s just the literature grad student in me talking.
- Voyage (Piccadilly Circus). I was reminded of Disneyland fireworks when I saw this building, mostly because of the intricacies of the projections. The building was made to look like the inside of a train station, and then it shifted to depicting the journey of that train to different countries, as well as showing images of clocks and gears. As someone who is far from home right now, it made me feel very sentimental about the way that time passes when you are traveling.
- Childhood (Trafalgar Square). The flatmates and I had to get a picture here because of the dreamy way that the square was lit up by a field of flickering balloons. They lit up in patterns to the music, combining the innocence of the object of the balloon with the advent of modern technology and culture. We also saw one of the balloons pop and the workers had to rush to fix it!
- Guardian Angels (King’s Cross). This was a small set-up that was located in a park around King’s cross, but despite its size, I adored the simple charm of the floating watering cans and the fiberoptic strands that streamed out of them. Elisa was the one who realized that “Guardian” could be a pun on “Garden,” which enhanced my love of it even further.
- The Light of the Spirit (Westminster). If I had to pick a favorite of all of the displays that I saw, this would take the prize. The projectors turned the facade of the abbey into one giant stained-glass window, as if somehow the intimidating stone was scraped away to reveal the beautiful landscape underneath. Vasilis said it best when he noted that this was maybe the most beautiful thing he had seen since he had come to London. The only bummer was that some people decided to make shadow puppets against the abbey with the projector, but otherwise it was gorgeous.
What I really enjoyed about this festival was that not only was it a chance for artists from around the world to showcase their work, but it was also about lighting up the drab atmosphere of London in the winter after all of the Christmas lights were taken down. Since it gets dark so early this time of year here, it can be easy to feel a bit depressed. A little bit of light, even of the human-made variety, was definitely a welcome sight.