Giant Light Beam Rises Over London for World War I Centenary

Ryoji Ikeda, Spectra, 2014 Courtesy the artist and Artangel
Ryoji Ikeda, Spectra, 2014 Courtesy the artist and Artangel

Last night, a tower of light shone above London to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Entitled Spectra and designed by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, the monumental artwork will dominate the skyline from dusk to down every night until August 11th.

It is part of the “Lights Out” series of artist commissions conceived as a response to a remark made by Foreign Secretary Lord Grey when Britain declared war on Germany. “The lamps are going out all over Europe,” he said, “we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

The spectacular piece features 49 high-powered static searchlights installed at Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent to the River Thames, behind the House of Lords.

While it is visible from anywhere in London, Spectra offers a very different experience in Victoria Tower Gardens, where a sound composition of pure sine waves is played continuously.

Spectra was produced by London’s agency Artangel, and commissioned by the Mayor of London and 14-18 NOW, World War I Centenary Art Commissions.

Spectra is an artwork sculpted in sound and light, a sublime combination of mathematics and architecture,” commented Artangel co-directors James Lingwood and Michael Morris. “Ryoji Ikeda offers us an open invitation to look and listen and wonder.”

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