Wonderful Wellington Lux

by Joanna on September 6, 2012

Today we have a guest post from Suzanne over at Observations. Yay guest posts!

Last night I went to the fascinating Wellington Lux lighting event on the Wellington Waterfront. (Runs from 6pm to 11pm, 1 to 9 September)

This  “teaser” event consists of four lighting installations, using new and interactive technology. The idea is to sample it this year, and grow it into the future…bring it on, please!

The four installations are located within walking distance of each other, as a mini-trail, from Te Papa’s walls, to Odlin’s Plaza, to the park between the Wharewaka and St Johns Bar, and the Michael Fowler Centre (Town Hall side)….

I arrived just as they were starting up the projectors, so I was able to enjoy the changing light as the sun set and the projections got brighter while the evening grew darker. As the installations became more visible, passers-by started noticing them. It was nice to see people purposefully striding by, then suddenly slow down and get drawn in to a moment of imagination before strolling on again, more slowly.

The hypnotic Enigmatica by Kit Webster became a new part of the cityscape behind it.

The movable Wavelight by Squid Soup on the side of Te Papa was hours of interactive fun – you moved in front of it and the lines and pools of light moved with you, making big splashes of colour on the walls.

Storybox’s Afterlight installation in containers was a smaller version of their storytelling installation, with sound and images on the container walls, projected from inside. This small child was transfixed by the contemplative images on the screens, with the captivating soundtrack.


More interaction with Acute Self by Interrupt, this time with amazing wire frame images appearing on screen in response to movements.

The experience of discovering amazing and unique things as you walk about is delightful, and it adds a new dimension of wonder to the city. It’s also an opportunity to develop and showcase new technologies, including sustainable event practices. (And its all free to the public, which is very heartening in these trying economic times!)

The location is well-chosen, as there are already many existing forms of lighting along the waterfront public pathways and tracks, and even the stock exchange ticker scrolling around its building, so these interactive installations seemed like an extension of the city at night.

Wellingtonians love their arts and events, and this idea has the capacity to grow into an iconic festival, so I would strongly encourage the organisers to carry on the good work, the funders to carry on funding, and hopefully we’ll have a winter lighting festival as part of our city-scape very soon.

Luc September 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Wellington really needs *less* of this kind of thing… we already have WOW and the Jackson empire for empty spectacle (I am not dissing empty spectacle). The Storybox stuff may have worked the first time but now just seems like the default funding application idea for those guys – where’s the content? Pretty much everything here smacks of kids of the 80s realising their ideas as if the past 20 years haven’t happened yet. I regularly see thoughtful lighting design / projected images / interactive walls as part of my everyday experience living in the year 2012.

Jess September 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Luc, I’m intrigued by your comments. I feel like the only projected images and interactive walls I see around Wellington (apart from at Te Papa) are plugs for large corporates, thoughtful only in the sense that they are trying to sell me something.

On the other hand I’ve had the privilege recently to attend a couple of the many Light Festivals that are popping up in interesting cities around the globe – Vivid in Sydney and i-Light in Singapore. I loved the experience so much also looked into several others – in Lyon, Ghent, Durham, Auckland and Moscow.

What struck me is how they bring cities to life, they are accessible to people of all ages and incomes, I’ve seen how theyhey draw people out and create a sense of playfulness and discovery within a familiar city environment. They feature talented artists from around the world working across many different mediums related to light and the range of works are broad enough to appeal to a range of different tastes.

In my humble opinion as a child of the 80s, I think Lighting Festivals are tops and I think Wellington will really benefit from growing one of our own to brighten the long winter months.

Lux-mini is a great beginning and I hope to see it bigger and brighter in the future.

and There are some really interesting artists working in the medium and these festivals generally bring together a collection of works that appeal to a broad spectrum of people of different ages and tastes.

while different works will appeal to different people, the aim is to bring together a collection of works that will appeal to

They are often the realm of corporate entities with

Jess September 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Oppps. The post was meant to end after “growing one of our own to brighten the long winter months.”

Sorry for the confusion. The rest of that below are just my notes.

Charles September 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Luc, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just want to check a few things from your post. Firstly, are you suggesting that Wellington should just shed all of its cultural events and have us merely engage with the arts as tacit and ubiquitous everyday experiences. No formal forum for collective discussion and critique? Not to mention the substantial loss in revenue to the region this would create. Secondly, did you actually speak to any of the artists about their work before branding them as “empty spectacles”? I’m sure investigation beyond the merely superficial would reveal a great deal of research, critique, thought and effort that has gone into each of the works. These are not people just playing, but artists and designers with research agendas that they are exploring through their practice.

lamorna September 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

my walk home along the waterfront is one of the highlights of my day, and having the chance to play around with the Lux show has been great. went back a number of time with different friends and groups, and each time was a new experience. i especially loved the light painting on the side of te papa – so much fun playing around with that. one of the things i love about wellington is the way that art is integrated into the everyday – it helps to remind us that life is more than just one step after another, that when we stop and contemplate there is so much to wonder at. Lux was all of that for me 🙂

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