Glow Up At The Power Station

With the stunning stars of Battersea's Light Festival

Digital Origami Tigers by Lava
Digital Origami Tigers by Lava

The Light Festival at Battersea Power Station has returned to brighten up those dark winter nights. Running until February 27th there are spectacular installations now on display across the Circus West neighbourhood. And now that the area directly in front of the icon building’s façade has been opened to the public, visitors and residents can enjoy the spectacular view from the Thames.

Two of the festival’s installations, Antenna Sud and Picto Sender Machine are making their UK debut, and Run Beyond will be on display for the first time in London. The light installations come from some of the globe’s most innovative light artists.

Run Beyond by Angelo Bonello (see below) focuses on a human leap to freedom. Which freedom that is, the Italian artist doesn’t specify. It’s up to the spectator to decide. Bonello says, "This work is about the power of imagination; a force that is so strong that it allows individuals to overcome their fears and limitations so that they can open themselves up to other cultures, new friendships and unknown worlds.”

Run Beyond is displayed on the newly opened river walk in front of the Power Station.

Run Beyond by Angelo Bonelo
Run Beyond by Angelo Bonelo

The Digital Origami Tigers started their journey around the world in 2010 to celebrate the Chinese New Year and is on display when the Year of the Tiger begins on 1st February 2022. The digital tigers by LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) combine ancient methods of lantern making with cutting-edge design and technology, in a quest to bring together the east and the west. The enormous tigers are made of recycled materials including aluminium and recyclable PVC material barrisol, whilst pulsating low energy LED lighting brings the sculptures to life. The artwork was adopted by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) to generate attention for their international campaign to save tigers and can be seen in the water feature in front of Circus West.

There are four more light displays on show this year. For Italian lighting designer Michela Bonzi, antennas are not something nostalgic - they form an ordinary part of her daily surroundings. With Antenna Sud she brings antennas back into the urban landscape. Antennas were once prominent in cities, but after the large-scale construction of underground cable networks they disappeared from most European streets. Southern Europe, Italy in particular, is an exception. They have been transformed into sculptures that, instead of emitting radio waves, emanate light, and they bring their striking presence to the retail unit located next to Battersea Power Station’s Switch House East throughout the Light Festival.

Greenhouse by Victor Engbers
Greenhouse by Victor Engbers

Meanwhile Dutch artist, Victor Engbers, chose to ignore the laws of science and went on a quest to make the impossible possible. The laws of science tell us that glass is unable to emit light, but Engbers discovered that uranium-glass, which has existed for 2,000 years, shines a fluorescent green colour under ultraviolet light. Following this discovery, he teamed up with a professional glassblower to create an entire ‘Greenhouse’ (see above) out of the uranium-glass, something which has never been done before. Engbers’ creation is on display next to the Power Station’s Switch House West during the festival.
The resolution of the images that Felipe Prado’s Picto Sender Machine produces is not only lower than we’re used to, but is also lower than the resolution of the first-ever digital photograph from 1957. Picto Sender Machine consists of an enormous low-resolution screen of 1,200 enlarged pixels and invites you to record a short video message. However, you can’t use words to express yourself, only movements, dance steps and gestures which are then translated into blocks of light. Located next to Grosvenor Arch in Circus West Village, the first chapter in the regeneration of Battersea Power Station, the machine encourages visitors to express themselves in the simplest, most instinctive way, without thinking about it too much.
Returning to Battersea Power Station’s Grade II* listed Coaling Jetty, Eternal Sundown is performed by Danish light designer, Mads Vegas, and consists of approximately 140 filtered fluorescent tubes. The artist did not intend for the work to look like a natural sunset but deliberately used materials that give it a post-apocalyptic feel. Will this manmade sun be the only source of light when the polluted air will not let the sunshine through anymore? Or is this piece, made with recycled materials, a sign of hope and a new source of sustainable power?

The Battersea Power Station Light Festival runs until February 27th.

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