LIGHT LINK: Shimmering Streets And Brilliant Cities...





As the end of 2003 draws near, Light Projects celebrates another exciting year of fusing art and design on both sides of the Atlantic.



Unveiled on September 20th, Leni's latest public artwork brightens and enlivens the nighttime streets of Unna, in Germany's Ruhr Valley. For several weeks this autumn, GLOWING WATERWAY, Hell Weg/Wasser Weg, an ephemeral lighting installation, "recalls" the flows of water and footsteps that have traversed Unna's Wasser Strasse since its origins in the15th century. The Hell Weg, or Bright Way, was an ancient route for commercial travelers and religious pilgrims. "Wasser Strasse" is literally "Water Street", referencing the subterranean stream beneath the city surface and the path mapped by its unseen flow to the Ruhr River.

"It is a sensuous environment suffused with liquid-light colors", says Leni. "Visitors experience GLOWING WATERWAY, Hell Weg/Wasser Weg as both a street and river of light. Trees and streetlight poles redefine the Wasser Strasse edge through continuous, illuminated, aquamarine lines and undulating projected forms."

This urban light composition utilizes two forms of illumination: Side-emitting fiber-optics to establish ripple-shaped, linear festoons; and stencil projections to create a dimensional space. The two technologies work together as one unified color-environment.

Says Leni: "Playing with perspective -- the regional scale of the Hell Weg, the street scale of Wasser Strasse and the small scale of a watery ripple -- the installation is perceived on many levels and by spectators of all ages. Viewed from afar, luminous lines and patterns converge to create a path of sparkling water-light. And up close, adults and children alike experience the artwork as a gathering space for conversations and evening fun."



Elsewhere here and abroad, Light Projects has created some of its most monumental public artworks ever.

This summer in Seattle, Dreaming in Color, Leni's illuminated color-field environment, was unveiled as a central feature of the newly renovated opera house Marion O. McCaw Hall. And underway in Glasgow, Scotland, Light Projects' public artwork-in-progress will illuminate one of the United Kingdom's most heavily traveled river crossings, the Kingston Bridge.

"The objective of Dreaming in Color," explains Leni "was to 'open up' McCaw Hall by giving viewers outside a sense of what was occurring within -- and to bring the drama to Seattle's general public."

The result was what Leni describes as "a series of melodies for the eyes."

"It was literally a score written in light: 283 computerized sequences cast through nine 30-foot stainless-steel wire-mesh scrims -- 6,000 square feet -- blending colored light to create a Mark Rothko-inspired painting in time and space."

One lighting sequence evokes the Aurora Borealis; in another, vivid aquamarines predominate, meant to evoke the Rhinemaidens' motif in Wagner's Ring cycle -- reflecting Leni's own passion for this music that dates back to her own early professional experience as a lighting technician at the Bayreuth Festival.

Visitors are literally bathed in volumes of color and light, and one family even arrived at McCaw Hall with wicker picnic basket in hand with the objective of dining amid the luminance of Dreaming In Color.

In Glasgow, Light Projects' Kingston Bridge commission evolved from the City of Glasgow's Lighting Strategy by the City Council's Department of Development and Regeneration. This permanent installation will integrate sensor-driven data from the river's tides as well as the bridge traffic -- two essential "flows" -- which will generate colored light in real time. An in situ mock-up was conducted at the Clyde riverside this summer by Leni and Light Projects' Senior Project Manager, Charles Cameron.



In recent years, Leni has been the sole American representative at a number of significant European urban-planning events and symposia.

Says Leni: "I'm thrilled that our work is considered compelling on both continents. It's great to learn about, and be part of, European approaches to lighting as a tool for metropolitan design."

Last fall, in Alingsas, Sweden, Leni's contribution to the annual European Lighting Designer's Association "Lights in Alingsas" workshop and urban- planning conference was Light On Wheels -- an ephemeral skate-and-cycle environment of moving light, color and pattern in a 6,000-square-foot commuters' parking lot.

"My objective," explains Leni, " was to transform empty nighttime space into a game-space -- a luminous playground for in-line skaters and bicyclists."

The collaborative artwork -- designed and programmed by Leni's team of young designers and architects -- continued through Halloween 2002, delighting thousands of spectators and passersby with a shimmering spectacle of leaping cyclists and speeding skaters.

Meanwhile, on the New York City homefront, a portion of Light Projects' contribution to the public-work-in- progress Triple Bridge Gateway -- a fašade-and- bus-ramp enhancement project for the Port Authority of NY and NJ in midtown Manhattan -- recently opened up to street view. Designed in collaboration with Pasanella+Klein Stolzman+Berg Architects, Leni's permanent installation is a "glowing box" on Ninth Avenue that frames Project Find, a senior center storefront just opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Says Leni: "The elongated box, with its metal-mesh covering, is an exciting preview to one-fifth of the color palette -- mutable colors plus silver-gray -- that will pattern the four bus ramps when the project is completed in 2004.

"The designers wanted, on the one hand, to shield the seniors from the exterior gaze of passesrsby, and on the other, allow for views out into the street. The glazing provides a translucent screen.

"A ceramic-frit screen composed of tiny half-tone dots and clear glass reiterates the pedestrian's upward view beyond the bus ramps, depicting glimpses of the sky through a pattern of thin, clear slots."



Leni has also developed a series of presentations drawn from her own professional quest for "passionate, brilliant, livable cities".

For Glasgow's City of Light lighting-strategy launch, Leni's presentation, Hours of Darkness: The Urban Night Canvas, focused on public lighting as an art form; issues of content, quality and interpretation, and the methods an artist uses to convey fresh ideas. Joining her were representatives from Lyon, France and Turin, Italy -- two cities that have also debuted lighting strategies.

For LightFair 2003, Leni conducted a symposium on "City Lighting Strategies, At Home and Abroad". And this past summer's presentation, "Luminous Rooms" for Harvard Graduate School of Design's summer symposium Experience Architecture elicited this observation from Yamamoto-Moss' Dave Norton: "One of the lecturers, Leni Schwendinger, a New York artist, just blew me away with her work."

For 2004, Leni continues to develop a discussion that investigates "21st Century Trends, Design Innovation And Community Engagement: Mutually Beneficial Or Mutually Exclusive?"

To learn more about Leni's upcoming presentations and to read more testimonials, click here. For more information about Light Projects or to arrange a visit to our studio, please contact Tobias Carroll:

Thank you for being a part of Light Projects' luminous world!


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