Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Battersea Power Station Light Festival: London riverside illuminated by four stimulating installations

'Talking Heads' by Hungarian light artist Viktor Vicsek uses a whopping 8,000 individually controllable LEDs

Battersea Power Station, London’s now-defunct generating plant turned riverside village, is well on its way to being transformed into a community-led residential, office and leisure complex. The first crop of residents have moved into apartments and Art Deco penthouses, while independent retailers are popping up in Circus West Village, phase one of the three-part redevelopment. Equally exciting is the food on offer, from Italian dishes at Fiume and modern Indian cuisine at Cinnamon Kitchen to British seafood at Wright Brothers and sourdough pizzas at Mother.

Circus West is also home to an ongoing Light Festival put together by Light Art Collection, the team behind light fests in Amsterdam, Toronto, Shenzhen and Norrkoping, Sweden. Until Sunday, February 16, residents and visitors who train their sights or steps towards Chelsea Bridge after sunset can catch a glimpse of four larger-than-life light installations by global artists.

Talking Heads

Perhaps the most eye-catching fixture, Talking Heads by Hungarian light artist Viktor Vicsek, uses a whopping 8,000 individually controllable LEDs. These are affixed to two giant faces, which are seemingly able to show a range of emotions and facial expressions, and even react to each other, conducting entire conversations through light.

Action Reaction 2.0

From Dutch designer Sjimmie Veenhuis comes Action Reaction 2.0. The installation consists of a large screen with a 1,000 buttons that, upon being pressed, light up in a variety of different colours akin to individual pixels. The interactive piece invites visitors to make their own patterns. Veenhuis’s aim is to give the humble button, which is ultimately a mediator between us and technology, its due. From doorbells and television remotes to social media likes, pushing a button is almost always associated with a sought-after positive experience.

Eternal Sundown

Visible at the Coaling Jetty, the 1930s jetty on the River Thames that opened to the public for the first time in August, is Eternal Sundown. Originally created for the 2018 Copenhagen Light Festival by Danish light designer Mads Vegas, this consists of 140 filtered fluorescent tubes that are manoeuvred to maintain an abstract sunset colour spectrum from dusk to dawn. The premise is to reassure viewers that no matter how dark the night, sunlight – a motif of joy, hope and life – will always return.

This It Is, Be Here Now

The final installation, This It Is, Be Here Now, explores the onomatopoeiaic aspect of light. First shown by Tropism Art & Science Collectiveat the 2014 Amsterdam Light Festival, the interactive neon sign flashes, crackles and sparkles, enticing people to come closer with its bright colours and provocative message. Beware, though, because the moment you arrive to the location you’ve been summoned to, the lights dim, accompanied by loud, rustling noises because, the collective says, “that’s how neon should be – annoying, insidious and endlessly elusive”.

“We’re extremely excited to host the first Light Festival at Battersea Power Station, and to be the first location in the UK to showcase these fantastic pieces of art,” says Carlin Fier, head of brand at Battersea Power Station Development Company. “It will strengthen [our] art and culture offering, and brighten up the long winter evenings after the festive season.”

Updated: January 28, 2020 08:48 AM

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