Shipyard Cranes Come Alive in Mesmerizing Croatian Light Projection

The dramatic light art installation has transformed the port city of Pula.

Skira, Lighting Giants (2014). Photo: Goran Sebelic.
Skira, Lighting Giants (2014). Photo: Goran Sebelic.
Skira, Lighting Giants (2014). Photo: Goran Sebelic.

Skira, Lighting Giants (2014).
Photo: Goran Sebelic.

An impressive performance piece by Croatian architectural lighting design studio Skira has taken full advantage of the sculptural qualities of shipyard dock cranes to create an otherworldly visual spectacle, reports the Huffington Post.

Skira, <em>Lighting Giants</em> (2014). Photo: Goran Sebelic.

Skira, Lighting Giants (2014).
Photo: Goran Sebelic.

The light performance and installation, titled Lighting Giants, is the latest attraction in Pula, Croatia. Debuting at last month’s Visualia festival, the piece dramatically transforms monumental metal shipping machinery into elegant, birdlike pieces of art through the use of well-timed bursts of colored light. Illuminated by LED lights, the cranes bear a remarkable resemblance to origami paper cranes, and seem to dance against the night sky.

The spotlights, which weigh 90 pounds, each contain 62 pieces of LED chips that can be programmed into over 16,000 combinations of color and brightness. The flickering show includes a rainbow of red, green, blue, yellow, purple, and other shades.

The piece is set first to John William’s “Wild Signals,” part of his score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, before transitioning into music from Daft Punk and Sergei Prokofiev’s “Dance of the Knights.”

It took 15 years for lighting designer Dean Skira to bring his artistic vision to life, but the city’s Uljanik shipyard, which dates to 1856, is now a tourist destination in its own right.

Skira, <em>Lighting Giants</em> (2014). Photo: Goran Sebelic.

Skira, Lighting Giants (2014).
Photo: Goran Sebelic.

The effect is quite similar to that of a video included in “Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe,” on view at New York’s Guggenheim Museum through September 1. That short film is based on an avant-garde stage lighting production devised but never realized by Giacoma Ball for Igor Stravinsky’s “Fireworks (Feu d’artifice).”

Ball’s performance piece, essentially an antiques laser show, featured only a set and lighting effects, without any human actors or dancers. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to labor disputes and was only shown in a single dress rehearsal . Now, nearly a century later, Matt Champer, Kana Otaki, Franco Sciannameo, and Don Marinelli of Carnegie Mellon have teamed up to create a digital rendering of what it would have looked like using Ball’s lighting notes and drawings of the set.

Giacomo Balla, set design drawing for <em>Fireworks (Feu D'Artifice)</em> (1917).

Giacomo Balla, set design drawing for Fireworks (Feu D’Artifice) (1917).

artnet News is impressed that Ball’s early-twentieth-century vision is only now being realized, and that modern technology has taken so long to catch up to the visionary Futurist’s grand ideas.


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