spectra Lights Up London

spectra was an inspired addition to the ‘Lights Out’ initiative to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1. spectra is a fantastical light installation from Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, reaching out into the darkness with a visibility and solitude that captured the imagination of thousands across the capital and beyond. Only the extra curious made the trek to the source (Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament in central London).

spectra lights out 100 years WW1

spectra lights up London. Amazing light spectacle over Parliament and the River Thames   © Bernd Talasch

spectra lights out 100 years WW1 rain

spectra lights up London. Rainfall © Bernd Talasch

spectra lights out 100 years WW1 49 beams

spectra lights up London – 49 beams © EnglishLuxury.com

spectra lights out 100 years WW1 inside beam

spectra lights up London. Inside the installation © EnglishLuxury.com

spectra lights out 100 years WW1 Victoria Gardens

spectra lights out. Foreground; English Luxury dining under the stars
© Bernd Talasch

spectra lights out 100 years WW1 inside

spectra lights up London. People wander inside the installation meeting up and taking pictures © EnglishLuxury.com

spectra lights out 100 years WW1Parliament b-w

spectra lights out. In glorious black and white © Bernd Talasch

spectra lights out 100 years WW1 Big Ben

spectra lights up London. Lighting up Big Ben © Bernd Talasch

To see it from distance was spectacular, but the full immersive experience could only be appreciated if you stood inside the installation, complete with 49 high powered searchlights and peered above as nocturnal creatures flew between the arrangement of beams. In addition, Ikeda’s ambient ’sine wave’ composition created a peacefulness and serenity that one rarely experiences in the middle of our 24/7 metropolis.

For one week, ending 11th August, the lights beamed into the evening skies from 9.30pm until dawn. Many stayed throughout the night in silent contemplation – some with their own (distant and recent) memories of war, others happy to lose themselves in the spectacle and summer warmth.

It’s interesting that the curators Artangel commented on Ikeda’s work as ‘a sublime combination of mathematics and architecture’ but it was accepted and appreciated on a more intuitive level by ‘participants’ who interacted playfully with the light, even taking comfort in warming their hands at their source and then laying back in the summer grass to witness the power of the light as it disappeared into the heavens, accompanied by the mellow rhythms of Ikeda’s sine waves lapping over them.

I just wish some refreshments were made available for the many visitors and simple facilities were provided but alas what London gains in the magnificence of spectacle it often loses in basic detail. Anticipating this, English Luxury arrived with Cumbrian rugs, hot plates, fresh salmon, roast chicken, ice buckets, a case of Ridgeview Marksman and tea lights and played host to appreciative visitors – well it’s the least we could have done to fly the flag…

spectra was produced and presented by Artangel. It was co-commissioned by the Mayor of London and 14-18 NOW.

All additional photos for this article are welcome.

Published Photos ©Bernd Talasch and ©EnglishLuxury.com

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