Spectra a column of monumental light created by the Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda and produced and presented by Artangel has blasted off from its London launchpad.. The unveiling took place in London on 4 August as part of the LIGHTS OUT initiative. Located in Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent to the Palace of Westminster, spectra is a column of intense white light punctuating the London sky from dusk until dawn for seven nights.
In tandem with the nationwide LIGHTS OUT initiative that saw businesses and households across the country extinguishing all but one source of light, spectra appeared in the London sky just before 10pm on 4 August during the course of the evening memorial service at Westminster Abbey.
LIGHTS OUT responds to a remark made by British statesman Viscount Grey on the outbreak of the First World War in 1914:
“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.
The source of spectra’s column of monumental light, visible across London, emanates from 49 high-powered static searchlights installed at Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent to the River Thames, behind the House of Lords. The work can be experienced throughout London by simply looking up to the sky, but the public are also invited to visit Victoria Tower Gardens and walk within the installation, and experience an accompanying sound composition of pure sine waves. spectra will finally fade for the last time in London as the sun rises on Monday 11 August.
James Lingwood and Michael Morris, Artangel Co-Directors, said: “spectra is an artwork sculpted in sound and light, a sublime combination of mathematics and architecture. Ryoji Ikeda offers us an open invitation to look and listen and wonder.”
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The light that spectra throws up into the night sky is a unifying point. It echoes how the First World War affected all Londoners, but also how they and the rest of the country came together, standing united during those dark days. As we mark the centenary and remember the devastation that the war brought to individuals and communities throughout our nation, this beacon reminds us of their heroism, but also of hope.”
spectra is produced and presented by Artangel and co-commissioned by the Mayor of London and 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Presented with the kind support of The Royal Parks.
RYOJI IKEDA was born in Gifu, Japan in 1966. He lives and works in Paris. Ikeda is a leading electronic composer and visual artist, whose work focuses on the essential characteristics of sound itself and that of visuals as light by means of both mathematical precision and mathematical aesthetics. Ikeda has gained a reputation as one of the few international artists working across both visual and sonic media. He elaborately orchestrates sound, visuals, materials, physical phenomena and mathematical notions into immersive live performances and installations.
Alongside pure musical activity, Ikeda has been working on a number of long-term projects including the series ‘spectra’ since 2001. spectra is a large-scale installation employing intense white light as a sculptural material and so transforming public locations in Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Hobart and Nagoya.
Ikeda has performed and exhibited internationally including at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne; MIT, Boston; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Sónar Festival Barcelona; Tate Modern, London; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Auditorium Parco della Musica, Roma; lCC, Tokyo; Art Beijing; Göteborg Biennale; Elektra Festival Montreal; Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing; Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media; Le Laboratoire, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Singapore Art Museum; Crossing the Line Festival, New York; Ars Electronica Center, Linz; Grec Festival, Barcelona; Aichi Triennale, Nagoya; Palazzo Grassi, Venezia; Armory Park Avenue, New York; Barbican Center, London; Museo de Arte, Bogota; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Laboral, Gijon; Festival d’Automne, Paris.