LAiPS partners witness the deep impact that permanent light art has on the identity and ambiance of public spaces

The 4th LAiPS Light & Art Lab took place in Amsterdam and Rotterdam (12 to 14 April 2023)

LAiPS project partners met with cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam for the 4th Light & Art Lab. Cities of Lyon, Oulu and Torino again witnessed the deep impact that permanent light art has on the identity and ambiance of public spaces. In many ways, light art can enhance the feeling of security and develop placemaking after dark. Permanent light art is a great tool to support social interactions as citizens engage in dialogue about the installations.


Peer-to-peer exchanges

Many passionate exchanges between city officials, artists, and other local stakeholders led us to learn how light art installations are developed from project idea, artistic intent and the approach used for the production of the artwork. What they become during the daytime and how natural light or other elements like water come into play was an important aspect of the conversations. We did learn more in general about urban lighting #sustainability and darkness management, how darkness or at least a lesser volume of light is a pre-condition for successful light art.

As in other cities, the importance of the maintenance aspect was highlighted: it is essential to consider the maintenance factor for the longevity of the light art installations. We heard that people tend to respect such installations that often create warm atmospheres during the night, in all parts of the city and there is low vandalism on light art installations. We drew the conclusion that even if creativity should not be based on technical choices, thinking about the infrastructure around the art at the start of each project is key for cities.

Night visits and testing the Light & Art M(app)

One of the most appreciated part of the programme is the night visit: going out at night with light artists is definitely a great way to experience a city. Two guided tours in Amsterdam and Rotterdam have been organised to continue testing the LAiPS (M)app.

In Amsterdam, many pieces seem to develop a connection between light and water, as this is part of the DNA of the city. Light art is spread in the neighborhoods and is often linked to everyday life, like using tunnels and underpasses to connect from one part of the city to another, often using the omnipresent bicycle. The role of light art to offer reassurance and a sense of place is very clear. Light artists presented their artwork at most locations.

LAiPS partners had the chance to meet:

  • Paul Vendel & Sandra de Wolf, light art work : Origin
  • Titia Ex, light art work : Lightfall
  • Femke Schaap, light art work : Virtual Fountains
  • Giny Vos, light art work : White Noise
  • Bastiaan Schoof, light art work : Flower Power

In Rotterdam, one of Europe’s largest port, Anne-Marie Ros, artist and professional guide took the LAiPS partners for a walking tour in the city center. Rotterdam is a city of urban art as well as a city of architecture, having been almost totally reconstructed after the second world war. This is reflected in the great collection of light art on a more memorial aspect and also in the aim of creating a softer, poetic and joyful city. The Centre for visual arts (CBK Rotterdam) and the city authority play an important role to examine the significance of each individual artwork and encourage new projects.

The projects visited included:

  • The destroyed city – Ossip Zadkine
  • Light gig – Giny Vos
  • The Erasmus Bridge
  • The Depot Boijmans
  • The Whitstraat

We need more light art in our cities. Clearly the power of #lightart to give extra energy to cities and make people happy is evident!

Up next

Light enthusiasts, artists and city professionals from the #urbanlighting world and beyond are invited to a major international conference to address these topics and more. It will take place 2-4 November in Turin: Stay tuned! >>

Learn more about the Light & Art in Public Spaces EU co-funded project here.