Lumen­—changing the way we think of art

Photo by: Mubassir Ahmed

Lumen, the celebration of light, art, and technology, returned with a variation of art installations from more than 30 local and international artists on display throughout Uptown Waterloo on Sept. 28.

Justin McFadden, executive director of Economic Development for the city, said in a statement, “This festival is a partnership between a diverse and accomplished group of organizations in the region and a celebration of the amazing artistic talent in our community.”

Lumen aims to celebrate the wonderful public spaces in Uptown Waterloo and animate these spaces in a way that allures people to explore the city through a new lens. 

Installations featured the work of artists using several different mediums and incorporated technological platforms to explore the exchange between technology and creativity. Another one of Lumen’s goals is for the audience to become a part of the festival with hands-on components. 

Sonya Poweska, Culture Program Specialist for the city, hopes to enhance the way that community members’ experience.

“The idea is to really get the community to interact with art, that is what we are trying to do here—to change the way people think of art as something that doesn’t just have to be traditional and something to look at,” she said

Poweska said each artist at the festival was unique and each installation had a sense of wonder and amusement. “Every one of the 30-plus installations has something to captivate the imagination.” 

Some of the more popular exhibitions at the event included the opportunity to have your face projected on the moon displayed across the cross-section of the Shopify building on 57 Erb St W, an experiment with balloon-instruments as well as the chance to rock out with Kazoo! Festival, Kid Koala, and other indie and avant-garde musicians. The festival also featured an interactive performance by Charlena Russell who performed in a custom-built light suit. She was paired with handmade, sound-activated LED installations by Bernie Rohde.

One of the more interactive attractions that perfectly embodied what Lumen was trying to achieve was ‘Monarch’, a butterfly-shaped instrument that converted anyone playing the synthesizer to a realtime visual feed of a butterfly  created by artist Nik Harron.

In an interview with Imprint, he said that most of the materials used to make the instrument could be easily found at any hardware store — all it took was creativity.

There was also a metal fire-breathing dragon stretching nine metres that let out fire to match the beats of the background artists, that illuminated the area surrounding Waterloo Public Library. The area was dimly-lit to enhance the effect of the fire and other neon installations on display. Across the street, there was also an interactive sculptural light called ‘A Warm Hug’ built with proximity sensors that lit up when given a hug.

The City of Waterloo has made Lumen an annual event, owing to the “tremendous response” from the community last year. This year marked its second festival—made possible by 90 volunteers, partnerships and sponsors.


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