On the 6th and 7th of October, the centre of Leeds played host to range of art, performance, and community participation. Once again Light Night was back in town. In the Middle sent out a team of writers and photographers to see how the evening panned out…
Light Water, Dark Sky
It is very rare that feeling immediately underwhelmed by a piece of art goes on to add to its beauty, yet that was the experience for myself and my companions at Squidsoup’s piece, Light Water, Dark Sky.
The installation was designed to be an ‘immersive and emotive headspace’, and it was just that. Immersive, intimate and ethereal, it simply could not be experienced from the outside, you had to be in it.
You are on a pontoon, in the dark, in the middle of the Clarence Dock. You are wearing headphones, no onlooker can hear what you hear. The music starts, slow and simple, and for every sound you hear a bulb, or a cluster of bulbs, burst into light. The music builds up and up, and as it does you can see the excitement on the faces of those around you building up too. More and more lights turn on and off in every colour. Sight and sound become indelibly connected, as if they are reacting to each other, like thunder and lightning. You are floating in music and light.
The experience ends as suddenly as it started, and as you leave the pontoon, you feel a deep connection to everyone around you, a sense of belonging and community. None of the people you pass on the surrounding streets can understand the experience you have shared. Yet now you all go your separate ways, into the night, knowing you are unlikely to ever see each other again.
My advice? If you see that Squidsoup are displaying near you, do yourself a favour and go. It is an experience you will not forget.
Fireflies & Phase Revival
I found myself in the Crypt of the town hall. The pillars which were scattered throughout the room had been decorated to resemble tree trunks. From the branches hung multiple small lights, which could be manipulated with the tug of a string. The darkened room with its quavering lights was intended to resemble a forest populated by fireflies. The quiet rustlings of woodland life were playing in the background to further enhance the atmosphere. In order to get down into the crypt we had been required to walk through the town hall.
This gave me the opportunity to enter the Victoria Hall, a spectacular room which I had never had the chance to see before. The hall also contained an art work entitled Phase Revival. It consisted of a number of swinging pendulums which refracted the light passing through their lenses. The oscillating shadows only accentuated the beauty of the room. As much as Light Night gives us the chance to see interesting and unusual art, it also shows us the fabulous architecture of Leeds, illuminated in a manner which impresses upon the viewer its beauty.
Hidden Gems of Light Night
A sense of the ethereal prevailed in much of the city, with unearthly music drifting from Millennium Square and four themed ice sculptures glistening in the centre of Briggate, each illuminated by a different coloured light. The Central Library brought its children’s fiction section to life with eerily lit likenesses of a dragon, a witch and the BFG.
At Queens Hotel, Dave Lynch’s gigantic digital waterfall cascaded down the façade, with droplets bouncing off the windows and pooling on the terraces of the building. And for those who stayed around, the water transformed first into a montage of blue and indigo brushstrokes, and finally into hundreds of individual molecules, surging across the façade as if caught in a current.
The Phoenix and the Stone
The Millennium Square light display projected on to the Civic Hall is always one of the festival highlights, and this year didn’t disappoint. Illuminos returned following the success of Momentous in 2013, and The Phoenix and the Stone was a visual masterpiece.
The story followed the phoenix across the four corners of the earth, through light, earth, wind and fire, and although visually pleasing, I found the narrative itself was too abstract and obscure to be entertaining.
However, with the building flowing from a gorgeous leafy green to sparkling fiery ambers, the visual display more than made up for the weak storyline.
(Featured image courtesy of Jessica Murray)