Like any other digital nomad, video-mappings seem to travel the whole world, constantly looking for new cities to project their stories onto. I am not sure whether that was the intention of artists who work with this beautiful environment but it most definitely is the trend: cities from everywhere make each of their light festivals bigger, longer and select ideas that come from further and further away.
The nice thing about a light festival is that the city (any city) becomes the place where the digital world becomes, temporarily, real. If you project a digital artwork on a building, then it becomes real: for 5 or 10 minutes, the building looses its primary face and becomes a canvas on which a completely unexpected story unfolds – a story that, otherwise, would have no connection with the building, the place, the city, the continent…
So, for this 2016 edition of the Lumina festival of Cascais, the video-mappings came from New Zealand, Italy and Australia, among other light stories that arrived from China, the Philippines, the UK, th US, France, Brazil…
The Interactive Digital Mandala
A mandala represents, in Indian religions, the universe. The term appears in the Rigveda as the name of the sections of the work, but is also used in other religions and philosophies, particularly Buddhism. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.
In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.
For the creative studio Storybox coming from Wellington, New Zealand, the mandala was the point of departure for an interactive video-mapping: you enter a word and the projection changes. Connected to the internet, the #entity255 googles images related to your word – sun, stairs, aesthetics, Sporting Clube de Portugal, performance, sailing, ocean and so on – and inserts them into the kaleidoscopic pattern that constantly changes.
Our digital version of the ancient mandala symbol is data and user generated, Storybox say. Once #entity255 is up and running, its changing shapes and responses to human interaction are all addressed by code. It draws visual material from the vast universe of the internet via google image searches inputted by the public.
#entity255 explores the notion of the mandala as a spiritual teaching tool, a way of establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. The work references the common generic notion of the mandala as a representation or microcosm of the universe – in this case, the digital universe.
N by Fuse*
Choreography & real time coding, that’s the specialty of fuse* studio. For the Lumina festival, they presented only the coding part, though, but even so, the video-mapping was an out-of-this-world appearance on the streets of Cascais, a truly abstract work with a stellar soundtrack, projected upon a historic facade.
Briefly, the story of N goes like this: N is a sound-reactive generating installation. The first version, N 1.0, was presented for the first time at the NODE festival in Modena, Italy, in 2010, when the projected net was modified in real time by the live sets playing inside the buildings. Among the artists who have interacted with the installation there are Ryoji Ikeda and Ryoichi Kurokawa.
Photos from fuse*
The installation was also presented during the Creamos festival (N 2.0), also in Modena, and at the Digital Graffiti Festival at Alys Beach in Florida (N 3.0). In this last version, the audience could control the installation via iPads, and the sound design was thus generated in real time.
The N 4.0 version is an interactive multimedia performance based on the real-time interaction between sound, movement and light. The perspective of the visuals alter on the basis of where the performance takes place. The graphics are modified simultaneously on the basis of sound frequencies and the instantaneous analysis of the dancer’s movements.
N won the award of Digital Graffiti 2011 – Most Innovative Visual Installation.
A contemporary reinterpretation of traditional indigenous stories, this Open your Eyes 360º video-mapping project was created with the participation of Pitcha Makin Fellas, a group of Australian Aboriginal artists. These community members meet regularly to talk and then paint on the canvas the stories that were told. This process, developed in a visually rich universe, has been conducted in a workshop where Ocubo, along the Pitcha Makin, shared visions and creations and transformed the words into animated pictures of the 4 seasons.
Just to give you an idea of the atmosphere of the Open Your Eyes mapping, here is a glimpse from the Melbourne show:
The Lumina Context
Overall, Lumina was a festival of 22 various artworks, the mappings above included. Lots of people came, every night, to walk the city, see the lights, enjoy, talk, have a snack, have a drink, comment, applause, dislike, enjoy and, above all, in the true sense of the expression, see Cascais in a different light.
What impressed me, especially when i compare this festival with others attended (Glow, Amsterdam Light Festival, Visualia, Llum, Signal…) is the multicultural approach – a video-mapping came all the way from Macau; the one above – from Australia; light installations came from artists involved in the Philippine or Brazil or French or US scene, all of them bringing along their specific context and issues.
One of my favorite books is The Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino; one of the cities, actually a harbor, is the place (metaphorical place, obviously, like all other cities depicted) where sailors and travelers come at shore and, while waiting for their new journey, exchange stories – exotic stories, personal stories, unexpected stories, so that one comes with his own and then leaves with somebody else’s tale of a fortunate event, or with somebody else’s story about a sister, or a friend… And, again, metaphorically speaking, that is the main reason of being of this particular city – that of exchanging memories. Seen from this point of view Cascais was, during Lumina 2016, exactly the kind of a place for exchanging, through light projections and installations, specific and special stories.
The Butterfly Light was not exactly the favorite of the public (nor mine) still it said an old Chinese legend and made such a great contrast with the walls, the old Cascais fortress walls, on which it was projected.
The Giant Dandelions is a great installation and its popularity grows since it was first shown in Singapore, two years ago. The dandelions are the work of Olivia d’Aboville. 90 huge flowers of more than 2 meters tall are made from about 9,000 recycled Hope in a Bottle water bottles cut and connected to one another by a nylon weave. Each flower is lit by an energy efficient bulb in order to create intensity variations within the forest.
It is the second time Olivia is partnering Hope in a Bottle, a Filipino brand of water bottle which gives proceeds from their sales to building new public schools around the Philippines. The exaggerated scale of the Dandelions through the presentation of this installation creates an interesting landscape of light, and through the creative re-using of the discarded plastic bottles, it sends out a bigger message of inspiration and hope to the less-privileged.
Merging the realm of kinetic light sculpture and performance, powered by humans reaching beyond the body to create ephemeral light forms floating in the air: ceremony, ritual, rite, hand held light sculptures, or should they be called light instruments? Running in Circles, Dancing in Waves by Paul Friedlander and Zoot was a show presented in the round with an ancient fountain taking centre stage by an accident of location, the quiet central still point around which the whirling movement shall play out.
Sometimes spinning, sometimes moving in waves, the show grew from small beginnings until the light display dwarfs the performers barely noticeable all dressed in black below the elusive luminous patterns.
All photos and illustrations are mine except when other copyright indicated.