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Amsterdam Light Festival 2018

Words:

Edd Norval
December 4, 2018

Amsterdam has always be a pioneering and progressive hub for creative ventures. Currently a city thriving as an advertising and design hub, the streets at night (until January 20th 2019) are host to an incredible array of light-based artworks illuminated every evening.

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Amsterdam is a city that begs to be moved in, not idly admired. The light festival hosts amazing works by international and national artists and can be experienced in many ways - by foot, by bike and of course, by boat.


Lining the streets and the river are these unique pieces that utilise text, shape and experience as a way of communicating various concepts, all vaguely hinged on the interplay of light and dark, and are curated to reflected the city's daring attitude to art.


A homage to national hero Vincent van Gogh is one of the highlights, appearing on a bridge, 'Starry Night' stands out with its swirling blue and golden hues, contrasting with the actual midnight blue of the night sky and dazzling white of its stars. Being able to move under the piece has the effect of moving through it, like an aeroplane (rather than a boat) the night sky can be sliced as the darkness of the bridge envelops those viewing it from the watery ground below.

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The artists had a vague brief, which has clearly been a visionary piece of direction from the festival's curators - 'The medium is the message'. It's flexibility, yet inspiring guidance, has long since been a source of creative philosophising and pontificating since the original words were uttered by Marshall McLuhan as a means of identifying the symbiotic relationship that stipulates the medium on which the message is conveyed will inevitably lend itself to the way that the message is consumed.


Highly influential on various artistic movements, unleashing such a well-known phrase as a brief has challenged the artists to consider much more than the immediate environment and aesthetic sensibility of their piece, necessitating a more holistic idea that likewise takes into accounts the force that light, illuminating through darkness, can have on the audience's psyche.


Besides the famous Old Master's reinterpretation as a light-work, there are oversize desk-lamps, floating dandelions, a swarm of spiders encroaching over a bridge and a symbol of modernity, the 'loading' symbol from our smartphones, placed around a person's window - as if, more profoundly than some charge, they are waiting for someone or something to come into or remove from their life. That's maybe the best thing about this festival. Amsterdam comes alive in the night, but this gives it another life entirely.

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