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Posted by Lighting Design International on 21 Apr 2015

On a recent visit to Paris, I found time to visit “Lumiéres; The Play of Brilliants” at the Éléphant Pantame, a centre for the arts, walkable from the Louvre.

10 groups of international artists, architects, engineers and designers were invited by the Light Collective to create 11 individual installations spanning over three floors of this cultural building, each artwork working within the designated architectural spaces.

The “play of brilliants” theme explores the phrase made famous by Richard Kelly, the American lighting designer, considered one of the pioneers of architectural lighting design. This phrase refers to one of the three primary forms of visual light, being the ‘patterned light or sparkle’ – it was primarily used to describe natural light or the sparkle that the tungsten light provides. However as we are moving away from old lighting technologies to new more sustainable sources, this exhibition explores the possibility that we can still experience this ‘play of brilliants’ but using LED’s and state of the art modern technology. It explores the close connection between the physical perception of light and an individual’s spiritual or metaphysical experience of space.

Walking through the blackout curtain into the first space you are confronted with a room filled with cascading water, from which your intrigue encourages you to walk around and into the centre of this large scale circular piece. ‘Light in Water’ was created by DGT, based on an installation shown at the 2011 Salon de Milan, but adapted to fit into the architectural domed space of the Pantame. Multiple layers of water curtains are lit from LED’s located from the dome above, the effect constantly changing though the layers, the piece explores the possibilities in encouraging an emotional response.

Continuing through the darkness to the room behind, Laura Bayliss has created ‘Lumiere Chevauchement’. This piece explores some of the many qualities of what makes up the brilliance of light. Laura’s light art installations and paintings considers the physics of light; reflection, refraction, shimmer, sparkle, glow, translucency, shadow and luminosity. All the light sources are concealed so that the focus is all about the effects.

Walking up to the first floor, if you peak up through the flights of stairs you catch a glimpse of Haberdashey’s first piece winding its way around the metal elevator shaft. ‘Orshi’ is inspired by the strong Japanese wind that sweeps down steep mountain slopes. 180 handmade ceramic leaves have been suspended in time as if in motion, very fitting winding its way down the lift shaft that is more of a sculpture in itself. Uplights suspended in amongst these leaves reflect light off the 18 karat gold, that has been applied to a number of the leaves, sending light shimmering onto the surrounding walls.

The second piece by Haberdashery ‘Disco disco’ demonstrates the programmable nature of LED’s with a sound responsive light sculpture. White light & shadows pulse from this disco ball inspired piece as you walk back and forth watching, it respond to the sound of your footsteps.

One of the pieces created especially for this exhibition was ‘Circular – a kinetic light installation’ by WHITEvoid; three rings in constant motion, changing colours, seemingly spinning about themselves. Here a ring represents eternity, together with the constant movement, there is no beginning and no end.

Moritz Waldemeyer created ‘Ming’; two high tech geometric pieces inspired from oriental vases, formed from custom interconnecting pre-programmed circuit boards. One vase is animated in reds & oranges and the other in whites & blues, these each representing the opposing elements of fire and water.

On the other side ‘Black Box Cosmos’ (left) derived from a more black & white simplistic design approach, though executed with great effect. Here the black & white patterns of light & darkness seem to dance up the wall from the movements of the air as visitors pass, and it isn’t until closer inspection that you see the whole effect is the reflections produced from a single source.

Continuing with the play on black & white, ‘UVA Telescape’ (right) plays with light as a sculptural medium. Historic photographs of the Moon’s surface (taken before the landings on the moon, from the original Lunar Orbiter missions in 1966/67), have been translated into three dimensions mapped from the shadows created by grazing the light across a surface and so “bringing the unreachable within reach, highlighting the invisible”.


In the third floor hallway ‘Implied Candelabra’ by GNI Projects shows the elements of a traditional grand chandelier stripped right back to a basic yet distinguishable structure. It isn’t until smoke is produced that the full form of this chandelier materialises; carefully placed lasers outline the stylised/graphical form, which then slowly drifts as the smoke dissipates, creating an ever changing but still recognisable form. See more on this earlier in this blog.

Moving into the last room on the third floor, straight ahead you are faced with a life size triangular structure. Colours cycle through what looks like a two dimensional projection made up from triangular pixels. It isn’t until you move around this that you realise these smaller triangular ‘pixel’ sections are actually the three faces of a three dimensional pyramid, some of which project up to 2m’s from the base. Three LED light sources project onto these surfaces creating a 10 minute show, playing with the idea of the old CRT (cathode ray tube) TV’s, the pyramids act as the phosphors of the screen displaying the red blue and green light, moving on & playing through these ‘primary’ and mixed colours.

‘Unwoven Light’ was originally created for the Rice University Art Gallery in Texas, it comprised of 37 sections of chain-link fence woven with dichroic plexiglass diamonds, for this exhibition just a small section of the original piece is displayed. The properties of light is exploited by the dichroic glass (reflecting, mirroring, changing colours….etc) this along with the suspended flowing form of the structure seems to create a space ‘suspended’ in time somewhere between reality & this other created world. It is these sculptural propertied of light that bring the two individual spiritual and tangible mediums together as one element, becoming one.

The Play of Brilliants is on at the Éléphant Paname in Paris until Sunday 31st May.

For more information and visiting details;