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The Landscape of Lighting: Part 6/6

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

By Amanda Koellner
Images courtesy of TILT

Light as a focal point in art dates back beyond the stained glass windows of the world’s first and finest cathedrals, but new technologies and developments continue to make light’s presence in public art installations all the more prominent.

“Light used to just be a practical tool that people didn’t really notice, but they are now realizing how beautiful and precious it can be,” says François Fouilhé, artistic director at TILT, a French art studio established in 2001. “You can see that this is a growing trend with all the light festivals: Lyon, Eindhoven, Prague, Amsterdam, Berlin—many of these didn’t exist a few years ago.”

TILT focuses on the exploration of light and its interplay with art, architecture, and space, and the studio’s work encompasses all aspects of light art, whether for temporary interventions or permanent installations—all with the aim of changing the view and experience that people have of each site the studio investigates. TILT has lit music and light festivals in Singapore, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Berlin, London, and Sharjah, and its giant light sculptures, which sometimes resemble oversized desk lamps and other times appear as giant, glowing flowers, appear throughout France as well.

“Our works are thought to create a dreamlike universe made of humor and poetry,” Fouilhé says. “Social media has created new relationships, but public light-art installations gather people in the streets to make them travel and dream, and this is something people will always be looking for.” Back in the States, Chicago’s Millennium Park features the glowing faces of the city’s residents on Crown Fountain while the shiny steel of Pritzker Pavilion glows in blues and purples. It’s all a result of the work of Schuler Shook, which found influence in both public expectations and available technology. “I absolutely think that light is becoming a more appreciable element of public art installations,” says Bob Shook, partner at Schuler Shook. “It’s wonderfully ethereal, it’s three-dimensional, and it never feels old. Plus, it’s a very cool thing to do after dark.”

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