One of the highlights of January last year was visiting Canary Wharf to see their light display, dubbed Winter Lights, which replaced the ice sculpting festival that they had in previous years that I never got to see. Winter Lights at Canary Wharf were on display for at least two weeks last year, and I went to see them on the first night. My review of Canary Wharf's Winter Lights 2016 can be read here. Last year also brought us Lumiere London, which I had hoped would make a come-back this year, but it did not due to the scale and crowding problems.
This year, Canary Wharf's Winter Lights returns for two weeks, and with thirty different installations, there are more this year than last. Monday night was wet and rainy, so I made the effort to visit it on a cold
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday. (I wasn't able to get there until Thursday as I had to work late.) The event was much more busier this year than last. This may have been because it was marketed more or people remembered it from last year or remembered the success of Lumiere. It may also have been because I visited it on a Thursday when more people were enjoying the evening out at Canary Wharf after work instead of earlier in the week like my last visit. An overview of each installation is included below along with my thoughts and experience.
Cathedral of Colours
Poemdrums & Koans - Lilian Lijn
This American artist explores language, sculpture and performance to create her sculptures. One range of them were lit-up cones that displayed phrases or poems when lit. Unfortunately, not all of these were lit up when I visited. A larger-scale one with moving lights was also on display. In addition to the "poemdrums", several colourful cones were also on display. One large white cone lit up with moving red lights. These were all located in the lobby of One Canada Square.
The Garden of Floating Words - Elisa Artesero
This work is a cluster of words and neon lights that create a poem which seemingly raises up amongst the trees and bushes in the park.
Angels of Freedom - Ove Collective / Merav Eitan + Gaston Zahr
Clustered around Jubilee Park are several similar art installations featuring wings in different sizes and positions. The wings change colour and have been set up to encourage interaction. The visitor can stand in the middle of the wingset and be transformed into an angel, complete with light-up wings and halo. Everyone can become an angel. These were gathering a lot of attention and encouraged people to take photographs as angels.
OVO - Ovo Collective
The colossal art installation this year is the Ovo. The Ovo is a large-scale installation that visitors can enter to become a part of it. A soundscape plays while the lights shift colour; a watery mist is ejected into the air at intervals, which gives the appearance of a mystical egg surrounded by mist. Inside the structure, different angles can be explored for vantage points, and the viewer becomes a part of the action, becoming surrounded in the mist that emits from the structure.
Lumen Prize Global Tour Showreels
These showreels present moving and still images from short-listed artists. The showreels were in the same place as last year, but they were easier to miss this year due to other installations in the immediate area.
Huge Reeds - Pitaya
These large and towering tubes have light flowing through them. They look like towering reeds and change into a bright colour, which appears to start below and filters to the ends. They also moved as though they were living reeds. These were in two locations at Canary Wharf: Cabot Square and outside Crossrail.
On Your Wavelength - Marcua Lyall
This is an interactive light sculpture and music installation, and it is controlled by a visitor's mind via an EEG headset. As the participant's thought patterns change, the lighting pattern and music changes. The lights are controlled with over 30,000 LEDs. Each participant's thoughts ended with a different pattern; this installation had attracted a large crowd with many people willing to give it a try.
Origin - Phillip Mohr & Selektivton
This interactive light and sound installation is controlled by the motion of the participant moving their hands inside an area in front of the sculpture. This produces a unique sound and light colour depending on the motion. The sculpture itself appears to be suspended in air.
Lumen Presents Inflow - Ronan Devlin
This installation is software-based. The software creates a three-dimensional artwork that creates movement betwen graphs in response to movement within its space. These patterns are then unique to each audience. I interacted with this along with a small group of people, and I overheard them saying that it looked like daggers coming after them.
The Haze Series - Max Patté
British artist Max Patté's has been inspired by his travels along New Zealand's coastline and how the colour changes there. It has inspired him to create his series of installations "The Haze Series". This installation is an experiment of light and colour, which is constantly tuned. Three of these orbs were hanging on the wall, gradually glowing softly.
Lumen Presents Passage - Bonjour Interactive Lab
The description about this installation was to the effect that the installation takes the sound from visitor footsteps and footprints and scans them. This then creates a data trail, which is frozen until the next group of visitors walk by. I have seen a video of this, but I somehow missed it due to so many installations being in such a small space; however, it is possible that it was out of action when I visited because I did not notice it.
Light Movements - Neil Shirreff
The artwork in these frames is lit up by gradually-changing multi-coloured LED lights. As these multi-coloured LED lights change colour, the perception of the frame and the artwork inside the frames changes form, which is created by an optical illusion. This transition continuously alters the perception of the work, making the dots in the artwork appear of different size or importance.
Lumen Presents Omega Point - Marios Athanasiou
This installation allows visitors to see themselves in infinite feedback loops (quantum physics). Visitors walk into a room with the screen in front of them, and their image is projected onto the screen in yellow dots, which then quickly dissipates after being replicated.
Selected Works - Aphra Shemza
London-based artist Aphra Shemza creates artwork in an abstract style. Her artworks combine the use of light and interactivity to encourage viewers to explore the artwork. In doing so, they can give it their own meaning. There were a few more pieces than the ones that I have added here, but the first set of works includes wooden totem poles with red-lit symbols. These were repeated as wall hangings. There were also a series of mirrored strands of lights to create the basic square or triangle geometrical shapes, but the mirrors an reflections created many more shapes. The larger of these gradually changed colour.
Neon & Mirrors - Camilo Matiz
Neon & Mirrors uses neon lights and mirrors to conceptualise words and their meanings. The artist challenges the viewer to see possibilities and opposite meanings based on the light and the reflection. Mass media and how the visitor sees it are a part of this installation. In the example that I saw projected, "Will vengeance heal?" is shown, and the reflection is "I have a dream".
Shiro - Nonotak Studio
According to the information about the installation, light, sound and performance pieces create immersive and dream-like states. This was not working fully because it will be demonstrated at set times during the weekend, and those wanting to view it should book ahead as space is limited. What I saw was that the panels of light seemed to show shapes and solid colour with a high sound volume, but I did not see anything else happen.
Digital Skin Live Interaction Station - Mateo Mounier + St Victoire Production
Digital Skin allows visitors to virtually paint one another and the background. They can also play with colour and pattern, which is projected onto them and the background. The resulting artwork can then be uploaded to social media. I watched the staff create artworks onto the bodies and background of participants by adding different patterns of colour onto a background and then using a solid colour to illuminate the face. This produced stunning results.
Transforming from Stardust - Lorna Carmen McNeill
This installation uses four fibre optic structures that appear to be in floral shapes. Each sculpture connects to a cosmic process and sequences different light colours and animation. Unfortunately, the placement of these meant that getting a photograph was very difficult due to others attempting to get photographs and the narrow passage and its close proximity of the installations. I would have liked to have seen this off the main pathway so that I could have enjoyed them without having to move for everyone.
Liter of Light - Mick Stephenson
Children from George Green's School on the Isle of Dogs helped to create this installation that allows bottles to be used to generate light. This concept took place at London Lumiere festival last year and has helped less fortunate people in the world obtain light without using electricity using plastic liter bottles. These plastic bottles can be coloured to give off a colourful glow. The science and charity behind this attracted a lot of attention at Lumiere last year, but this was sadly missing from the exhibit at Winter Lights.
Cosmic Radiophone - Interactive Agents
Cosmic Radiophone is an illuminated musical instrument that plays the sound of the Big Bang. The creation is from the work of Professor Mark Whittle of the University of Virginia, USA. This object must be interacted with; the 'liquid' inside the tube can be 'raised' up.
Our Spectral Vision - Liz West
This colourful panels seem to change in intensity when looked at in different angles. It is created using pure white light as a diversion and pure colour with glass to create the feeling that the colour moves.
We Could Meet - Martin Richman
This permanent art installation was a part of the Winter Lights festival last year. It was commissioned in 2015 and consists of illuminated blue-purple rods that sit between the crossrail station and Canary Wharf in the small channel of water. It is meant to be seen from above, and the light intensifies and seems to pulsate.
This light installation is located in the shallow water below the new Crossrail terminal and consists of blue stalks of light with purple stalks of light on some of the ends. The effect was a little difficult to capture on camera. The artist played with colour perception in this piece to enable the viewer to see how the colours 'change' as they work together.
Cathedral of Colours - Mads Christensen + Quays Culture
These twelve columns of light respond to visitor movements. Light speeds through the columns to generate more light energy as people gather around and walk amongst the pillars. This was one of my favourite installations because it allowed interaction and displayed a good form of colour. I visited it twice because it was not as busy earlier in the evening, but it came to life later on.
Water Wall - Andrew Bernstein + Gregory St. Pierre
Water Wall is an interactive sound and light art installation. It uses a watery mist to project light onto. The light and shapes projected onto the watery mist are created from movement when the participant enters onto a certain area. The installation explores the relationship between movement, shape, and sound onto light and water; the projections seem to float on the mist. This was a highly interactive and immersive work that I enjoyed participating in to create my own light and sound projections. It was one of the highlights of the event.
Bloom - Sqidsoup
Thousands of glowing orbs of light sway on stalks and change colour in sequences. They respond to sudden changes in ambience and appear spring-like with floral pastel colours. Brighter colours, such as red and orange and blue, are also fair game. The lights flash and sequence in their own choreography to a soundscape. This was one of the most photographic installations.
Horizontal Interference - Joachim Slugocki + Katarzyna Malekja
This installation links trees with streams of light. Colourful horizontal bands link the trees in geometric patterns that seem to flow and transform the urban landscape.
Luma Paint Light Graffiti - Lichtfaktor Featuring Graffiti Legend + Helge Bomber Steinmann
Grafitti and light are combined to create this installation, which is probably similar to what I saw at London Lumiere festival last year. Any object, such as the ground or other viewers, becomes a canvas for the light to be 'written' onto it. This installation is only available to see on Friday and Saturday nights.
BIT.FALL - Julius Popp
This installation was on display last year for Winter Lights and is a permanent feature at Canary Wharf. A similar water and light sculpture was located in the Olympic Park in 2012 underneath one of the bridges, and I watched it there. Live news feeds create the words that fall from the source so that the words are formed in mid-air before falling into the dock below. This sculpture attracted a lot of attention, and I also enjoyed watching which words would pop out next. Last year, it was difficult for me to leave as I wanted to see which word was coming up next and wanted to photograph one that had meaning for me. I was fairly happy with the word "Broadway".
Technogems - Franziska Vogt
Using ancient methods of creating items of gold, traditional techniques have been applied to marble stone. The geometric patterns created have then been highlighted using LED technology, and the sensors in the jewellery items respond to movement and light when worn. I looked for a long while for this, but I could not find it. It was listed as being in two places, but I was unable to locate it in either despite spending a long while looking.
Lightbench - LBO Lichtbank
Ten permanent lightbenches have been created for Canary Wharf and are placed in Canada Square Park. These benches are illuminated with soft, changing colours. Lightbenches was one of the installations last January for the London Lumiere festival. These attract a lot of attention as people enjoy taking photographs of themselves on the colourful benches.
Luminocity - Ice Rink Canary Wharf
The ice skating rink at Canary Wharf is a light installation itself. Every day, the ice rink presents a 10-minute sound and light show, transforming 8km of lights under the ice into a work of art.
Winter Lights in Canary Wharf is only on for another week. It runs from the 16th of January until Friday, 27th January. The installations are free to view and on between 4:00 and 9:00 at night.