Lyon Light Festival Forum 2023 – Highlights

200 participants from 20 countries including 17 cities officially represented passed through the doors of Les Subsistances for the 2023 edition of the Lyon Light Festival Forum. Co-organised by LUCI and the City of Lyon, the two-day programme which took place on 7 and 8 December 2023 focused on creative angles to imagine the city of tomorrow. 

Exchanges on creative angles to imagine the city of tomorrow

“Cities must reinvent themselves, find solutions, and develop their capacities for metamorphosis. How can we bring new perspectives on these changes and sharpen our imagination to invent the city of tomorrow?”

The morning of the conference started with two sessions on the Forum’s main theme featuring elected officials, architects, video game and lighting designers.

Mark Burton-Page (General Director of LUCI) orchestrated the dialogue between the Mayor of Lyon Grégory Doucet and Hilime Arslaner, President of Frankfurt Municipal Council. Both accentuated the importance of history in creating current-day playgrounds for creativity in the city, ranging from music to intercultural traditions that lead to celebratory events such as the renowned Fête des Lumières in Lyon or the Museum Riverbank Festival in Frankfurt, that bring crowds of millions together. Both also stressed the importance of art and artists in the process of revitalising the city, giving new perspectives on the world and bringing about fundamental changes for society. Finally, they gave a message of peace and optimism that light might bring joy and hope in a moment of challenge and turbulence.

The Mayors’ dialogue was followed by a conversation with journalist Gaële Beaussier-Lombard who led the roundtable between participants from different fields. The architects Sara de Gouy (Sara de.Gouy) and Luc Schuiten (VEGETAL CITY) as well as lighting designer Victor Vieillard (Studio by Night) discussed amongst other things, the role of nature in their work and how it could and should be incorporated in all plans for future developments of urban spaces. Like Doucet and Arslaner in the opening dialogue, Ubisoft’s Creative Director Thomas Geffroyd (Ubisoft) shared the importance of history in inspiring the imaginary worlds seen in video games. He said: “We need new images to structure a positive dialogue on the city and on our lives.”

All speakers shared the opinion that cities of the future should consider more natural, reusable materials for more creative and inclusive spaces. The digital world (e.g. video games) and ephemeral interventions (e.g. light festivals) will have an impact on the permanent aspect of the built environment (architecture, urban planning, etc.) if we take into account their role of conveying emotions and building common references for beauty.

After the roundtable “Creative angles to imagine the city of tomorrow”, the speakers to shared the key takeaways of their own visions for the city of tomorrow in this short video 🎥

Creative lighting in today’s cities: today and beyond

The afternoon was loaded with short and inspiring Pecha Kucha presentations from speakers from Germany, France, the UK, Canada, Spain and the Netherlands.

Emilie Dias (Leipzig Festival of Lights) updated the audience about the international co-created “Beacon of Hope” installation, connecting not only to the previously mentioned points of sustainability and cooperation between the city and the people, but also to LLFF 2022 when the city project partners (Lyon, Jyväskylä and Eindhoven) took the stage. The concept of sustainable light installations echoed also with James Cochrane (Jigantics) who presented his art installation BLOOM, which creates a dreamy landscape of gigantic flowers.

The artist Joanie Lemercier and the Luzinterruptus anonymous artist collective shared their work that brings environmental messages to the forefront through site-specific guerilla lighting and light installations made out of large quantities of waste such as plastic bottles.

The aspect of slowing down in the digital age connected Amelia Kosminsky’s presentation with that of Thorsten Bauer. Stemming from her medical conditions, Amelia’s installations aim to provide refuge from light and sound over-stimulation often found in cities with peaceful and contemplative pieces that are both indoor and outdoor. Thorsten challenged the idea that effective lighting has to be fast and high-frequency LED by presenting slow-speed digital pieces that play with elements (wind, water reflections) and the features of the space or architecture used.

The audience also learned about the interactive works of Philip Ross and Pierre Amoudruz. Philip shared the process and thoughts behind “Airplay”, presented within this year’s GLOW festival in Eindhoven, which invited people to interact with the light installation to create sound together. Pierre presented examples of his work in public spaces that use video mapping to create an aesthetic experience while incorporating other formats (sign language, dance, etc) that simultaneously spark conversations about topics such as rising sea levels and inclusivity.

LUCI members can now access the presentations on the LUCI Hub.

Opportunities for networking and exchanges 

Alongside the on-stage programme, LLFF offered opportunities to the light artists, designers,  festival curators and city representatives present to exchange and network during the breaks, cocktails, Light(Speed) Networking moment and the night visits to the Fête des Lumières.

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Watch or re-watch the conference

LUCI members can view the presentations made during the conference in the LUCI Hub.

Photo credits:

©Emmanuel Foudrot; ©Joanie Lemercier; ©Luzinterruptus; ©Jigantics; ©Amelia Kosminsky; ©StudioBauer; ©Philip Ross; ©Pierre Amoudruz; ©Bertram Kober