Arts enthusiasts of all ages gathered on Lansdowne Street on October 10 for ILLUMINUS, a festival showcasing the work of artists, designers, performers and creative technologists. The event was organised in collaboration with Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), The Boston Globe and the Massachusetts General Hospital, as a part of HUBweek, a week dedicated to art, science, and technology.
ILLUMINUS was established in Boston’s SoWa Arts District in 2014 and garnered over 10,000 attendees at the inaugural festival.
The locally organized event was inspired by the global “nuit blanche” — meaning all-nighter, in French — movement that was originally established by French artistic director, Jean Blaise. The concept was to create a cultural art festival that ran throughout the night. This idea is gradually being adopted by cities all over the world and is constantly attracting a larger audience. This is the second year Boston has hosted the festival.
The street was lit up with light installations and musical performances that provided the opportunity for the festival-goers to experience a multi-sensory interaction with the artwork.
Such interactions included stepping on the “Healing Pool” which caused the projected image of organic patterns on the floor to break apart and reform itself.
This extraordinary experience was made possible using a custom algorithm created by artist Brian Knep.
A memorable piece was a series of doorways where visitors were confronted with two or three doors that different words on each, such as “mystery” or “reality.” People were given the choice to make a decision about which door to walk through.
The piece titled “Between Doors” was created by Labspace Studio.
The 19 artists featured in ILLUMINUS all have a diverse background alongside various experiences in design, multimedia, creative technology, robotics, research and programming. Furthermore, many were inspired by their personal ideas and experiences that enabled them to produce innovative works.
The idea for the interactive sound installation “Ovation,” created by artists Heather Kapplow and Liz Nofziger, originated from a personal encounter.
“The idea came out of an experience Kapplow had while travelling with a musician friend on a tour,” Leonie Bradbury, curator of “Ovation,” said in a statement. “She [Kapplow] realized there is no equivalent experience for people who are not performers, but felt strongly that the warmth and pleasure of being very lovingly cheered for is something that everyone should have the opportunity to experience.”
Other pieces portrayed serious issues; artist David Nunez brought our attention to the extremely endangered species of Northern White Rhinos in his installation “Requiem for Rhinoceros: Nabire’s Dream.”
Nunez explains that he intended “to create an experience for people to have some empathy towards [the Northern White Rhinos] and to understand that [their extinction is] something that will happen.” There are only 4 left on the planet today and Nunez hopes that this piece prompts people to “celebrate these animals that will no longer be here very soon.”
Katherine Chao, an attendant at the festival, expressed her thoughts on the art projects, “I enjoyed how interactive some of the pieces were because they weren’t limited to one sort of art form – it involved music, or light, or projection.”
“But the layout [of the festival] could have been more organized,” Chao said, “I wish there were explanations on the pieces of art.”
Similarly, Annie Loduca, an attendant at the festival, observed that “There weren’t background information about the pieces which made it more difficult to interpret the meaning of it.”
“Apart from the festival being slightly disorganized,” Loduca said, “I liked how the art installations “incorporated different elements together and was very fluid overall.”
The artists displayed their ability to innovate and create by combining components of art, technology and science. Each and every individual piece of art embodied unique qualities that were distinctive and appropriately distinguished the artist. The energy radiating from the crowds was undeniably evident as people displayed a genuine sense of interest for the artwork and encompassed respect towards the artists.