Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Light for the little ones

It’s been again one of those winters when snow keeps coming and going, giving – at least until a few days ago – only temporary relief to the grim period of darkness we are facing. For five nights in early January, the Lux Helsinki 2015 event provided some comfort to the melancholy always hovering around us this time of the year.

Mostly a Good Visibility by Immanuel Pax. Hand-painted slides by Anniina Veijalainen are being projected onto the viewers who can enjoy them through opal glasses.

This season, the theme for the annual downtown Helsinki event was audience participation and interactivity, which the youngest generations seemed to embrace. The piece installed inside the Central Railway Station, for example, was very popular among the curious little ones. It is Antonin Fourneau’s work Water Light Graffiti containing thousands of LEDs that illuminate when the participant brings them into contact with water. Anyone could pick a brush and a cup of water and create a graffiti of their own as well as dry the surface and remove their work if they felt like it. The more professional artists were working on the other side of the wall.

Another fascinating work especially for the kiddies was the Time Lapse Plant by the Japanese artist and light designer Kinsei (aka Takayuki Fujimoto) and the Finnish composer and sound designer Aake Otsala. It consisted of three platforms with a circle of lights at the top making the viewers’ shadows move around them in multiple colours. This was enabled by the latest LED lighting technology. Otsala’s sound effects further enhanced the feeling of a time lapse. I had to try that one. I even shot a short video on it.

A third installation attracting children was the white cube in front of the Finlandia Hall congress venue. There was a microphone inside the illuminated box and anyone could have performed whatever they fancied in there. As we are not exactly a nation known for its faculties in public speaking or the like the participants were mainly kids moving around or dancing. The installation then kind of repeated the movements on the exterior of the congress venue illuminated in red.

This piece entitled Anonymous by the Helsinki Lighting Design Collective (Tapio Rosenius, Jari Vuorinen and programmer Gorga Cortazar) was a statement to the world of the Internet: there is no privacy there. I believe the message was that every action in there leaves a mark and can be traced however safe we believe to be. That someone may be watching you, interpreting you, even analysing you at all times.

'Anonymous' at baseline.

As for us older and less ‘participation-prone’ members of the audience, this year’s event felt a bit flat lacking those kinds of spectacular light installations I posted about in connection with the 2014 and 2013 events. Nevertheless, I’m planning to show some more works we saw last week in Helsinki as soon as I can.


  1. What a wonderful project. Thank you for describing it to us!