Sunday, 12 November 2017 I visited Glow light art festival, as well as Van Abbe Museum, both in Eindhoven (NL).

The theme of Glow was ‘The Source’ and all artists were asked to relate their works to the source of light in some way or another. I set myself the mission to find this source. Or formulated in other words: what kind of artistic content is radiated in the projects? There were over 20 projects and several side projects exhibited on the six kilometer walk through the city of light.

Although it was a great family walk from one project to the other, I felt it was more light entertainment than light art we witnessed. Reading the back stories about the artist works, it appeared that content suffered quite a bit under technophilic possibilities. Visual attractions seemed more important than the underlying creative sources. Luckily the Van Abbe museum exhibited also some Glow works. Here the visitor could get in a more subtle relation with the light works.

Inspirational Dutch artist Gabriel Lester presented the site specific installation ‘How to Act‘ which I had seen before this year in Haarlem. The work offers an immersive cinematic experience without the use of film images but with lights and a sound track. In this way Lester invites the viewers to make their own stories in their heads. Interesting as an idea, though I am not convinced by the spatial execution of the work. For me, it is too much a sitting-on-a-bench-situation. How would this work be as one would walk through a long corridor while undergoing the filmic lights in a certain frame rate?

“When you reach your destination, people might be thinking already about the next place they want to go”. French artist Laurent Mareschal expressed this restless understanding in the interactive work ‘Here’ which was projected on a carpet. When one walked over, the poetic words in Arabic, English and Dutch would float together in an unreadable whirlwind. The work was clever designed as one had to explore and find out what the dynamics of the interaction and meaning were.

Then we arrived at the most intriguing work. Many people took pictures and made small films of the work ‘Energy’ by media artist Akinori Goto. It was mesmerising to see and expressed dancing figures by the projected lights on wired mesh forms. Deconstruction the parts was easy, but it puzzled me how it came together. Fascinating!

Last but not least, I met the artist Elcke van Gorkum while seeing her works. We had a very interesting talk about her works and the influence the public had on them. As she herself was easily overstimulated by visuals, her aim was to make active meditative visuals. This was done by checking hand movements of the viewers in front of the works and measuring which visuals acquired the most relaxed performance: when people stood longer looking at a certain part of the visual loop looking, this information was retrieved from the data. And next day these parts of the relaxed-making visuals were shown in the new creation. So, everyday the work was updated and improved. In what direction it improved, might still stay the question though? It is in a sense an unaware co-makership process, which is rather to my liking.

Summarising my experience, I have met much more ideas in the museum than in the outdoor works. Why is this, one wonders? Firstly, I figure curating is of more importance in the contemporary museum institution than in the light festival itself. Secondly, the festival which was visited by around 740.000 people in one week only, seems to think more like an entertainment company. Many visitors complained even in their reviews about the vast number of food stalls. So it seems that the economics are more a driving factor than the arts. They apparently did not go hand in hand and that is a pity for the after-Glow of the city of lights.