From the first fires lit by our ancestors 400,000 years ago to the cottage campfires of today, light has always brought communities together. In its second year, the City of Waterloo’s LUMEN festival is continuing this tradition with artists showcasing the interplay of light, art and technology.
This year’s festival – happening this Saturday, Sept. 28 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. – features more than 30 artists and musicians across four zones in Uptown Waterloo. Back for his second year is artist Stephen Orlando of Motion Exposure. “When LUMEN was first announced, I thought, ‘Wow – this is all the things I do; light, art and technology,'” said Orlando.
He works with light painting, which uses long-exposure photography. “The exposures range from one second to 30 seconds,” said Orlando. “The camera is collecting light during that time and I then use LED lights attached to things like canoe paddles or violin bows and those lights essentially trace out their path through space in that image.”
Some of his favourite photographs are of people canoeing, “but they do require lot of planning,” he said. “There’s only a certain period of time where the light is right – not too dark, not too light.”
For this year’s festival, Orlando has built a bullet-time video selfie booth. “This past year I’ve been experimenting with combining light painting and bullet-time photography, bringing those two worlds together.” Remember the now-famous scenes from “The Matrix” where characters appeared frozen in time? Orlando’s interactive exhibit will allow you to make your own. He uses a six-camera setup that takes photos from different angles and combines those images into a video so it looks like you’re frozen in time. He then combines that with light painting. drawing curtains of light around you. “It’s a very unique video selfie booth. I send you the video right away and you can share with your friends.”
Local artists Trisha Abe and Taylor Jones are participating in LUMEN for the first time this year. Abe’s work is primarily murals. If you’ve walked down King Street in downtown Kitchener recently, you’ll see one of her beautiful murals across from Kitchener City Hall. Instagram users will know her work as her murals inside the Him & Her office inside 305 King and the Communitech Hub are some of the most ‘grammed works around town. Jones is a Kitchener native who recently returned to town after a stint in Toronto. He is a published author, most notably his “Dear Photograph” book which combines old and new photographs of the same scene.
For Abe and Jones, LUMEN presented an opportunity to do something different. “We haven’t really worked outside of our comfort zones in a while,” said Abe. “This is giving us a chance to do something new in our respective art styles.”
Their work this year is titled Luminous Living. “We’ve constructed a pop-up living room, making it crazy in terms of colour,” added Abe. “It looks like a normal living room; a sofa, table, etc…but we’ve taken something boring and made it fun.” Everything from the furniture to the plants has been painted and the entire living room is lit with black lights. You’re encouraged to sit down, take a load off – even leave your shoes on and engage with the room. “When we saw the open call for LUMEN, we knew we just wanted do something for it and to work together,” said Jones.
Even though LUMEN is an evening festival, it’s meant for the entire family. Sonya Poweska, Culture Program Specialist, Economic Development at the City of Waterloo, was really excited after seeing the crowds at the first LUMEN last year. “We knew it was going to be a great event,” said Poweska, “but we were especially excited by the number of families that showed up. It’s a really inclusive audience of all age ranges.”
LUMEN isn’t a festival that’s simply observed. The exhibits are designed to be hands-on where you interact with the art and the artists. “Don’t be afraid to take a leap,” added Poweska. “All the artists are present to make the art accessible for everyone.”
Poweksa also encourages everyone to share their experiences. “You’re not just witnessing, you’re participating. Engage in the art.”
Not sure where to start your night at LUMEN? Poweska recommends:
AMASS (Jackie Levitt and Jonah Kamphorst) – How do our actions HERE affect things over THERE. Video artist Jackie Levitt (Jaxamuse) works with passers-by to explore the compounding impact of our habitual actions. Accompanied by original thematic music by Jonah Kamphorst (Jonah K).
The Piece: Ambient-Electro-Balloon-Strument-Audio-Visual-Interactive-Theatre – This is an experience like no other. The audience is invited to become part of the electro-opto-coustic vibrational field while squeezing luma-sonic droplets from the world’s first publicly installed pair of balloon-struments.
ScreenTime – ScreenTime is a family of video artists who create live visuals to enhance musical performances. Edie is the eight-year-old leader who creates stop-motion and digital animations. Her mother, Jenn, creates 3D animations and her father, Scott, makes abstract 2D animations. Using multiple projectors, their work is edited live to suit the mood of the music being performed.
Communitech is a partner of Startup HERE Toronto. This article originally appeared on their site.