UK’s Biggest Digital Light Festival To Illuminate Quays

Expect Daleks, Spongebob and fireflies as Lightwaves Festival brings over ten immersive experiences to Salford Quays

Written by  Vicky Smith | Follow @mcrconfidential | Monday, 14 November 2016 15:10

LAST year it was giant bunnies and mirrored cathedrals, this year it’s origami ships and the best of Blackpool Illuminations as Lightwaves returns to brighten the winter nights. The initiative is part of Quays Culture, who put on a stellar programme of events throughout the year; most recently Motionhouse’s breathtaking performance of theatrical dance spectacle Broken. What’s more, all events are free. 

If you fancy getting in on the act, why not join in a digital workshop?

Building on Lightwaves’ 2015 success, immersive experiences for 2016 will include newly-commissioned digital art displays, light workshops and installations from artists both nationally and internationally - spanning The Quays, from the Plaza between The Lowry and the Lowry Outlet, to MediaCityUK’s Piazza and even the River Irwell. 

First off is Heart Beat; a co-commission with Blackpool Illuminations and part of the GNI Project’s Light Love Collection - a series of installations using mixed lighting media to create the symbol of a heart. From one angle, Heart Beat is an animated 3D heartbeat pulsing through the sculpture whilst, from another, the lights join to form a heart; for it to appear, spectators are encouraged to make a connection of love or friendship by joining hands in front of the sculpture. Once the connection is lost, the heart is again broken into fragments.


Another debut is Aether & Hemera’s Voyage, which sails into Salford as part of its global tour; transforming the waterfront with six lines of 33 origami boats, occupying a space of 630m2. The public can transform the 198-strong fleet’s colour and pattern by connecting to the Voyage Wi-Fi network and opening their browser to access; they will then be given a choice of artworks to interact with, such as a rainbow or the night sky. 

Elsewhere, Shine - an emerging talent programme with Leeds Light Night - sees the creation of three new commissions; including Sam Sebbage’s Footsteps, consisting of 80 illuminated footprints walking a path. Each is created from artificial grass and embedded with lights, representing the walks of life each of us follow.    

And it’s not just upcoming talent we can anticipate, as Blackpool Illuminations - which opened in 1912 and now boasts 10km and one million bulbs - will showcase some of its most engaging pieces in partnership with Quays Culture. Reflecting MediaCityUK as home to the BBC, the collection will include Dr. Who Daleks, Spacemen and of course his trusty tardis. There will also be popular freestanding children’s characters, from Noddy to Postman Pat, alongside a forest of LED trees. 


From further afield comes Laiki#3, in which Polish artist Edyta Masior suspended fluorescent fishing lines and fitted them with contact microphones. The installation creates air vibrations when the strings are plucked, creating a harp-like sound. Fixed Grinn Collective’s Fireflies, meanwhile, is a series of floating LED spheres that ‘fly’ amongst those that visit them and Massimo Uberti & Marco Pollice’s Today I Love You marks the start of a partnership between Quays Culture and Amsterdam Light Festival.

Art installations aside, Chris Paul Daniels and Sam Meech will be screening One Square Mile, which won the new category in Quays Culture’ Northern Artists Film Competition. The Salford University co-commission uses cinematic techniques to explore environments, architecture and communities within one square mile of Salford Quays and the Northern broadcasting beacon of MediaCityUK. A full programme of selected artist films will also be showing. 


If you fancy getting in on the act, why not join in a digital workshop? Available from Friday 9 December to Sunday 11 December, 12-2:30pm and 4:30-7:30pm, they’re open to all ages and both small groups and individuals.

Finally, launching Lightwaves on Friday 9 will be the Honour Choir - created to mark the centenary of First World War - bringing together hundreds of singers from across the region for a spectacular one-off performance. And the following day sees an exclusive artist talk with GNI Projects and Aether & Hemera. 

So get tripping the light fantastic over to Salford Quays and prepare to be enlightened. 

Lightwaves 2016 will run daily from Friday 9 December to Sunday 18 December, midday - 10.30pm.

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