SALT LAKE CITY — Singapore, Finland, Holland, you name it — light art festivals have been popping up all over the world in recent years. Wowing spectators with virtual reality, 3-D light sculptures and map projection, the phenomenon brings cities to life in quirky, yet dazzling ways. And for the first time in Utah history, Salt Lake City will hold a festival using the new art form.
Illuminate Salt Lake! Utah’s Light Art and Technology Festival will be Nov. 10-11 at the Gateway Center, Eccles Theater Plaza and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. The event features more than 30 light art pieces by artists from Utah, Oregon, Colorado, Idaho and California. And according to Derek Dyer, executive director of the Utah Arts Alliance, the timing of the festival couldn’t be timed more perfectly.
“Salt Lake is in a unique place right now,” said Dyer. “We have enough artists that are working in the medium, and the technology is affordable enough and accessible enough that I think people can be really creative with light art and the different things they can do with it.”
From a 100-foot tall projection onto the Walker Center Parking Garage to smaller works displayed in the available space at the Gateway, Dyer said light art can foster a sense of community in ways no other medium can.
“You’re able to do these large-scale community pieces that really brings people together, and feel a shared sense of place,” said Dyer. “The vision of the festival is that it will grow into being a truly city-wide event. What we hope to do is allow people to take ownership of it themselves.”
Whether that entails participants who wear outfits with LED battery-powered lights incorporated into them, or businesses that brighten their storefronts in new ways, Dyer said the options are endless. And the festival’s “light labs” — which includes live performances and experiences with virtual reality — provides interactive experiences for all who attend.
“This is Salt Lake City’s festival. This belongs to everyone,” said Dyer. “We want everyone to be a participant in this event.”
For those interested in gamifying their experience at the festival, Dyer suggested a free augmented reality app, Illuminate AR, created specially for the occasion. Users who complete all 62 experiences associated with the app can win a trophy of the festival’s mascot Illumino, a holographic robot, during the night.
Partnered with Utah Film Center; Utah Division of Arts and Museums; The Leonardo; Salt Lake City Arts Council; Discovery Gateway; and Clark Planetarium, Dyer said he hopes the festival will educate and inspire those who attend.
“Light art definitely gives this sense of awe and wonder,” he said. “It’s a medium unlike any other.”
If you go
What: Illuminate Salt Lake! Utah’s Light Art and Technology Festival
When: Friday, Nov. 10, 5-10 p.m and Saturday, Nov. 11, 5-10 p.m.
Where: Gateway Center, 400 W. 100 South; Eccles Theater Plaza, 131 Main; Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 S. West Temple
How much: Free to the public