UK's largest light festival comes to London

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Light installations will illuminate London as part of Lumiere 2016, the country’s largest light festival taking place from 14-17 January. The event will see the capital’s most famous locations be lit up by 30 works of art created by leading artists.

Lumiere, developed by creative producers Artichoke, first debuted in Durham in 2009 and is being held in London for the first time.

From 6.30 to 10.30pm each evening, iconic pieces of architecture across four of London’s most exciting areas – King's Cross, Mayfair, Piccadilly, and Trafalgar Square and Westminster – will be transformed with 3D projections, interactive installations and other extraordinary light works.

Highlights of the Lumiere festival include an enormous net sculpture hanging in Oxford Circus that represents the catastrophic Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 (image 1). Its creators, Janet Echelman and Studio Echelman, used data from NASA to create a 3D image of the phenomenon, the basis of which was used to create the shape of the piece.

Audiences can also play with the sculpture using an app - powered by Atom Bank - that manipulates the light and patterns projected onto it.


Image 1: 1.8 London. Credit: Janet Echelman / Studio Echelman / Artichoke 

Another stand-out piece is a collection of giant illuminated plants with multi-coloured leaves, bringing a taste of the tropics to the city’s wintry January (image 2). ‘Garden of Light’ was created by TILT, a French collective set up by François Fouilhé and Jean-Baptiste Laude in order to give prominence to light art.


Image 2: Garden of Light. Credit: TILT / Matthew Andrews / Artichoke 

As sensors and lasers become more freely available to artists, many have jumped at the chance to make their art interactive, and light art like that seen at Lumiere is becoming more and more popular.

Another example of artists using photonics technologies to light up public spaces is London-based design studio Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF), who used drones, lidar and CT scans to create a virtual reality experience in Grizedale forest in the Lake District, UK. The project, called ‘In the Eyes of the Animal’, takes users on a journey that allows them to fly above the forest canopy, come face-to-face with high definition creatures and embody various animals as they traverse the Grizedale landscape. 

Artistically interpreting the sensory world of the animals, MLF built a real-time system that dynamically visualises precise lidar scans of the forest and CT scans of the animals. Visitors were not only able to hear the animals’ environment through headphone-delivered audio, but were also able to ‘feel’ the sounds thanks to a wearable Sub Pac device that turns the audio vibrations into a tactile experience.

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Further information 

Lumiere London 2016