Images: Samuel Lewis
My friend and I arrived and disembarked from the bus by the art gallery to the sound of drums and a crowd watching a cultural dance in the street. The festival had such an impressive breadth of events it was beyond us to see it all, but we hoped to do it justice. In the end we decided to just work our way through the indoor displays. First we took a walk to the city museum where the ‘Hackspace cubed’ event was. This consisted of a cube of light bulbs that pulsed and changed colour, creating the impression of movement and fluidity. Beautiful as it was, the dark room and lullaby music that accompanied it made it more night light than light night so before we fell asleep we took off.
Moving on we entered the college of art; the normally silent gallery had been set up with speakers playing a distorted, psychedelic sound to accompany the artwork. The inclusion of an aural element to a normally visual experience was novel and engaging although some of the more abrasive and experimental of the sounds were a bit terrifying. Even so, this quirky experience was one of the highlights of my evening.
The launch trailers for the Leeds International Film Festival were promising and provided a welcome rest from our wanderings, but the main event was the theatre of illuminations. This was truly electrifying and boasted a dramatic sound accompaniment. Waves of light danced across the building creating perspective illusions and constantly shifting into different shapes and patterns. The building’s own shape seemed to distort and become whatever the projections dictated. First it was a tunnel through space, then a symmetrical pattern of dots before detonating into a chaotic network of fibres. When it was over an old theatre sign swung out in the middle of the building signifying the next showing was soon. We resisted the temptation to watch it again.
Determined to make the most of the events we searched for something called the ‘Ghost Carriage’ which turned out to be quite underwhelming. We did, on our journey, happen upon some surreal art displays called ‘Tetra Echoes: 2′ near the Corn Exchange. Other experiences of note included a chance to see the old holding cells underneath the courts and an intricate hand cut paper art display called ’10A’. My only criticism was that the guide to the events could have been in a clearer format, and it would have been helpful to have a large timetable in place somewhere central. However, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves; Leeds Night Light festival was an immersive audio-visual experience and the atmosphere in the city was positive and inclusive.