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  • Writer's pictureDianne Lange

Light as a form of art ups your feel good factor

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Light has the ability to stir deep emotion in a person. The memory of holding a lit sparkler in your hand as a child and writing your name with it in the air; fireworks exploding in a myriad of colours overhead to celebrate the dawn of a new year; the cosy warmth of an Irish coffee while sitting in front of a crackling fire... just imagining these brings a smile to my face and a feeling of wellbeing. Light is good for your soul.

I'm certain that artists, exhibition curators and event organisers are in no doubt aware of the power of light to create positive raw emotional responses in humans. The evidence is there. We have more opportunities than ever to experience light as a pleasure trigger in the form of light installations, exhibitions and events.

The first time that I recall being exposed to light on a huge scale to display art was in Paris in December 2009. I was out on a late New Year’s Eve walk with my husband and we were lucky to stumble on a free exhibition at the Grand Palais. The whole interior was illuminated with moving light. The exterior had words projected over the whole building. I was taken aback as I had never seen something quite like this before. It was a real “WOW!” moment.

This kind of interactive light experience has been evolving and becoming more prolific since my first encounter in 2009.

Take my adopted home-town of Bern as an example. Bernese residents and visitors have had the pleasure of enjoying a variety of events that feature light; “Rendezvous Bundesplatz”, the “Berner Sternmarkt” and “Museumsnacht Bern”.

Since 2011 from November to December, Rendezvous Bundesplatz, the yearly light spectacle held at Bundesplatz in Bern city, uses the facade of the Swiss House of Parliament as a canvas that brings the whole building to life in an animated light extravaganza. Appealing to young and old, it has become an unmissable event that has grown in popularity over the years. The atmosphere is heightened with the delicious aroma of hot roasted chestnuts, burnt candied almonds and mulled wine, which are sold at stalls near the main event.

Around the same time of year, as the days grow darker and colder, Bern has become the venue for a new light experience, the “Berner Sternmarkt”. Opening in 2018, it is a cluster of wooden market stalls selling artisan-crafted gifts and locally produced food items, a variety of food-trucks and bars, and even a Swiss fondue chalet. What makes it magical though, is the multitude of twinkling lights and the huge central Christmas tree, that elevates your emotions and makes you feel a sense of festive joy!

The oldest of these events, being established in 2002 is the Bern Museumsnacht. In March, for a set reduced price, many museums around the city of Bern and the surrounding suburbs open their doors until late into the night. Public transport is free so you can travel to the different locations dotted around the city. Food trucks pop up all over the place. Bands play. Street performers entertain. Just good fun!

Having been to many of these, I have observed that over the years the use of light and light installations are becoming a more prominent feature each year.

Last year, huge illuminated moth-like balloons were tethered in front of the Swiss House of Parliament. As the moth is the symbol for this event, they were impressive ambassadors, welcoming everyone and becoming a much loved light art installation.

It’s November. Not my favourite month of the year. But knowing that I can go to these wonderful events and knowing how great they make me feel, makes the dark cold days of the coming winter months just that little bit easier to handle.

Do you have any favourite experiences that involve light? Let me know by leaving a comment. I am researching how light affects your wellbeing and it would be great to hear your personal experiences.

For more information about these events, click on the following links:

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