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Radiance Festival of Light

Posted: November 28th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

Leaving aside the related gig disaster as previous post, I was excited about this, the idea of wandering around the back streets of Glasgow and discovering light installations and disused buildings that have temporarily been given a purpose again.

With Alasdair on map reading and Glasgow knowledge duty we began by meandering our way round the Merchant City. The first couple of installations were so non-eventful as to almost pass notice and the church with, um, some lights on it was similarly unremarkable. We were invited to make our way round a set path through the Ramshorn Gardens which was initially exciting as our giant shadows projected themselves on to the building opposite and slowly shrunk as we walked. Things then turned muddy and dark with some tiny fixed lights illuminating random gravestones, branches and corners. Woo.

Down the back end of King Street things improved with warped, melty shop sign lights making me feel like I had taken a wrong turning into surrealist France, and an enormous video projection on a wall was momentarily awesome in its size.

‘Trapped’ at the bottom of King Street was possibly the biggest installation where a disused building has had its windows lit in colours with video projections filling the central area of windows. We arrived while they were displaying adverts (for the festival. Which we were at) so had to make do with the entertainment provided by Man Pissing in Doorway and Children Crying (possibly related). Then giant ants started marching over the windows in patterns, getting bigger each time they appeared with the colours changing in rotation, eventually culminating in enormo-insects filling the whole central area. Giant insects crawling over buildings is to be encouraged, I think.

Up at the Trongate a building was sporting projections designed by children which meant we had the scarily fun sight of a building covered in brightly coloured balloons. Further projections were based on the actual building itself making it appear as if it had been coloured in with neon crayons, a slightly disorientating look that made me feel like the buliding itself was a projection.

Our last stop was the view of the, again, unremarkably lit church and mosque by the Clyde but much more captivating was the long term lighting developments on the various bridges which reflect shimmering colour on to the river. The blood red pedestrian bridge dominated the view and we walked back over it where it loomed, bright red, clear and strong overhead and easily beat the festival installations.

The main problem with most of the installations is that they were just kind of there. Pretty and kinda cool but not really living up to the status of a festival of light. Radiance was trying too hard. Glasgow doesn’t need this trumpeting and garish cosmetic lighting. Light up the dark random areas, highlight the unused and un-noticed and let people discover them for themselves.

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


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