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October 10, 2018

‘Borealis' light show coming to SLU

Journal Staff Reporter

Rendering provided by LMN Architects [enlarge]
This is an early concept of LMN’s light art installation for “Borealis.”

Image provided by SparkLab Lighting Design [enlarge]
Lighted googly eyes will be mounted within trees as part of SparkLab Lighting Design’s installation.

A festival of light art called “Borealis” will take place in the evenings from Thursday through Sunday in South Lake Union, with work by local, national and international artists and designers.

Comcast is presenting the festival, which will include installations, and multi-media video mapping designed to transform the facade of the Museum of History & Industry.

The mapping is part of a worldwide, juried competition and was curated by mapping technologists Maxin10sity of Budapest, Hungary. The six finalists are artists from Bratislava, Moscow, Istanbul, Shanghai, Tokyo and Chicago. Each show will run about 30 minutes and will repeat every hour.

There will also be a walking tour of 25 light art installations that lead from Lake Union Park into the South Lake Union neighborhood. Borealis Light Art Collective, headed by Seattle artist and curator Mary Coss, organized the installations, which were created by local, regional and national artists working in fine art, theatrical art and lighting design.

Seattle-based LMN Architects and SparkLab Lighting Design are participating in the festival.

LMN helped plan the layout of the walking tour and multimedia sites around the MOHAI, and is doing a light art installation on the tour. LMN's Tech Studio and urban design team worked on the projects.

The theme of LMN's installation is “I am Here.” The piece uses light to visualize people's physical presence in an environment, said Plamena Milusheva, an LMN designer and member of the Tech Studio. As people walk over a bridge near the museum, sensors cause lights to change, with different patterns depending on the number of people.

LMN offers public engagement services, so Milusheva said the firm felt it was important to be in the festival. The work also let its Tech Studio research new ways of engaging people with built environments, she said.

SparkLab Lighting Design will present two pieces. In “Talkin' About Traffic,” trees along Mercer Street near the UW Medicine Building will be given human characteristics, said CJ Brockway, principal of the lighting design practice. The leaves will be lit up to look like hair, and lighted googly eyes will be mounted within the trees.

The trees will “talk” to each other, using light as the medium, said Brockway. Artist Dave Misner also worked on the project.

“Counting on You” will be in a stairway in Amazon's Troy Laundry Building. Sensors will change lights and audio as people move on the stairs.

There's a growing interest in using light in design, said Brockway.

“We think about light as it impacts human experience,” she said. “We like to think about how light works three-dimensionally so we can use it to sculpt in space artistically.”

Modern Enterprises LLC of Seattle is producing the festival in association with Maxin10sity. There also will be food trucks, beer and wine gardens, and live music, courtesy of Hubbard Broadcasting Group.

The event is free, but registration is requested at BOREALISfestivaloflight.com.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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