By Alicia Serrano.
Under the slogan “Urbanisms of light. New urban landscapes”, the Umbra Light Festival, a cultural and technological event that held its first edition between 21 and 23 February in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, has begun its journey.
The concept could not be more interesting: to think of lighting as an element to reinterpret the everyday. To allow the population to rediscover their common spaces and interact with the urban environment from new perspectives. And all thanks to the transforming power of light.
Throughout the three nights of the festival, the citizens of Vitoria-Gasteiz made a sort of pilgrimage through the 18 works that were part of this first edition. Eighteen proposals, national and international, that reflected and experimented with the dialogue between light, art, heritage and polysensory experience.
From the beginning, the organizers of the festival(Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea, Rafael Gallego and Carlos Torrijos), were clear that Umbra Light F. should be considered as a laboratory of ideas and innovation. An experimental encounter in which light would serve as a vehicle to promote urban regeneration and the discovery of new ways of interacting with the city.
In this sense, the historical heritage was one of the protagonists of this event, as some of the proposals were site-specific pieces that dialogued with several of the heritage landmarks of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
“The Coins of Charon” was a good example of this. This piece, created by Juan Gómez-Cornejo, transformed the crypt of the Cathedral of Santa María into the scene of a journey to Hades. An immersive and poetically charged reflection in which the use of space, the mastery of lighting and a spectacular soundtrack, allowed the visitor to flow through its rhythms and atmospheres. An authentic experiential reflection on the human condition itself.[/vc_column_text]
Another magnificent example, and one of the most praised by the festival’s audience, was “Wall Pattern Phenomena”, the urban intervention created by Ezequiel Nobili in which, through the play of light with the geometric pattern generated by the openwork canvas of the wall of Vitoria, the spectator could immerse himself in the constant flow of the colours that make up the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. A multisensory experience in which light, colour, form and sound guided the spectator towards other ways of seeing a corner of the city that, in itself, has an important symbolic charge.]Very interesting, too, were the proposals that paid tribute to the urban art exhibitions that daily dress the walls of the city. And they did so by bringing to life several of the examples of the Mural Itinerary of Vitoria-Gasteiz, combining different projections with the pre-existing iconography. In this way, they managed to dazzle, for three nights, the visitors of the festival, who watched them, fascinated, as if they were cinema screens.
An example of this would be the piece created by Joan Rodón on the mural “Al hilo del tiempo”, in which the artist reflected on the struggle between the permanence of memory and the passage of time through moving images of great elegance and poetic charge.
Another example full of freshness and sense of humour was the piece “Alea Jacta Est”, conceived by the tandem created by Emilio Valenzuela and Jordi Bonet. In it, they appropriated the mural “The Triumph of Vitoria”, turning it into an attractive sequence typical of the most classic video games that emerged at the end of the eighties: an amusing delight
Mapping has also had a place in this festival. In this field, one of the most outstanding pieces was “Eclipse”, an ephemeral intervention created by the dLux & Oído studios. This is an audiovisual work in which, during the time span that usually covers an eclipse, different light and colour projections were developed which, accompanied by a penetrating sound, brought the façade of the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Hall to life.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column]
On the other hand, the natural heritage of the city also played a leading role thanks to the proposal “Berdeko Konstelazioa”, developed on the vegetation of the Gardens of the Cathedral of Mary Immaculate. This work, which combines Land Art with Light Art, is a good example of the creative genius of Javier Riera who, thanks to the interrelation between geometry, drawing, nature, space and light, managed to transform several corners of these gardens, creating dreamlike spaces that, after a few moments of observation, became hypnotic.
And, very close to these gardens, in the Parque de la Florida, Playmodes presented an audiovisual show in which, every 20 minutes, the Quiosco de Música was transformed into a big box of music and light. It was, then, when everything began to revolve around this piece, entitled “Zootrop”; because, in it, three musicians delighted the audience performing various jazz standards while light and color games surrounded them, dialoguing with their notes and captivating the audience at every moment.
Another type of proposal deserves special mention: those based on the creation and use of light objects that are, in themselves, artistic pieces and, at the same time, effective tools for the sensorial transformation of space.
Within this group, one of the pieces that had the best reception among the public was “Renace”, a work created by Carlos Torrijos for Studio&Light in which the cloistered space of the Montehermoso Cultural Centre became, for three days, the continent of a luminous object that trapped the spectator thanks to the interplay between the geometric shape of its neon lights, the light, the colour and, of course, the music. The fusion of all these elements sensitively connected the work with the audience who, allowing themselves to be carried away by this sensory experience, surrounded the piece in ecstasy.
On the other hand, the interaction between the public and the various proposals selected has its best example in “Stratum”, an interactive piece in which it was the public itself who, through its movements, modified and transformed the light layers that were generated in the piece. Gestures and movements that created territories of light developed through the different visual layers present in the piece. This was one of the international proposals presented at this festival. Designed by Studio Chevalvert & Mirage Festival, it was presented with great success at La Fête des Lumières 2017 (Lyon, France): a success that was undoubtedly repeated at the Umbra Light Festival.
One of the main objectives of this festival has been to invigorate the Medieval Quarter and the Ensanche of Vitoria by surprising the population with different proposals to bring them closer to the multiple possibilities and capabilities of Light Art. And, as we have been able to verify in the partial tour through some of the pieces presented in this first edition, each proposal allowed the public to experience in different ways the transforming power of light in the urban space.
Perhaps this was one of the keys that made this festival such a success: for three nights, the city took to the streets and enjoyed an international event that allowed it to interact, from other points of view, with its common spaces.
In short, combining quality proposals and an accessible and interesting urban route, we can say that this first edition of the Umbra Light Festival has obtained a great reception from the public. So, I think I’m right in announcing that we have good news: everything points to the fact that Umbra Light Festival is here to stay.
The Lighting Authors Association is proud to have been able to participate as a partner in this fantastic project.