Imagine your private thoughts about enduring Covid in a diary. Now imagine them posted in public as part of a glowing block of art for the 1st Edition of the Madrid International Festival of Light.
That is the opportunity that the artist collective LuzInterruptus took when offered the chance to create new work here in the Plaza Mayor that the public could enjoy and interact with. “A great wall covered with countless notebooks with blank pages,” describes one of the organizers. It stood there day and night “imposing its overwhelming simplicity on the Baroque architecture around it.”
A smaller hut-sized version of the project delighted crowds during the holidays in Ghent, but this massive white (30 meters x 10 meters) fluttering book fringe radiated inside the Spanish capital with private musings from thousands of citizens and tourists. Some had just arrived to see it, while many senior citizens filled pages in advance of the installation. Of the total 4,000 notebooks used in the installation, “2,000 notebooks were distributed among Municipal Senior Centers in the city so that senior citizens could express on the pages their hopes, fears, and reflections during the lockdown.”
“They told us their stories with uncanny detail and others drew as well, in some cases showing great talent. With their letters, poems, accounts, words, images, and scribbles, a large panel of lighted memory was erected. Writing sessions were organized which turned into a time of reunion. Therapists, instructors, technicians and directors were also present to help materialize their accounts. People with disabilities and their caregivers participated as well.”
The results are probably moving, possibly mundane, and at some point, profoundly moist – thanks to a surprise rainstorm of intensity and duration that transformed many of the pages into objects far less geometric than the crisp flurry of quadrilateral finesse they began as. “The pages had acquired a more sculptural compact appearance,” on artist tells us, “so that the wind could not do its job and the sound of the pages could not be heard.”
Every time you hear “artificial intelligence” you think of Becky Thompson from you 9th –grade Earth Science class. Admit it.
But this is an entirely different interpretation of artificial intelligence from SpY.
Madrid public artist appears to be on a winning streak this fall, thanks perhaps to so many detailed plans he laid during lockdown with COVID. This night light show called “DATA”, which he did for the International Festival of Light called LUZMADRID this fall maximizes a slim slice of the urban nighttime view, and he intends it to be an immersive audio-visual experience.
We’re excited to hear about Spain’s first light festival – and we have a little friendly advice: Don’t let the advertisers take it over the curatorial decisions because before you know it they’ll be project toothpaste tubes up this alley. No one will listen to us, but we feel better saying it.
DATA, says SpY, “offers a reflection on the rapid and widespread inclusion of algorithms in numerous aspects of our lives. In this audio-visual work, digital abstraction is used to explore and interpret how predictive tools operated through algorithms and artificial intelligence are highly beneficial in terms of aspects such as communication, research, and medicine, but can also lead us to lose some of our freedoms if they are not used ethically.”
Which was precisely what you would have guessed, right?
SpY tells us that he wanted to explore new tools like holographic fabrics to alter the graphics, saying that they somehow appeared “weightless”. He created a 15-meter high screen made from this fabric and installed it in one of the smaller streets, embuing the experience with something magic, and possibly otherworldly for the audience on the street.