LUX 2018

The LUX festival is back for another year so we took the opportunity of a dry Friday evening to attend the opening night. The festival covers a smaller footprint this year with no extension into the city laneways. I think this is a pity as there are a few sculptures on display that would look better suspended in the narrow spaces rather than being held up by scaffolding along the waterfront.

Anyway, we spent an hour or so checking out all the sculptures. Alayna is currently wheelchair-bound because of a broken leg sustained while trampolining and this limited her ability to interact with some of the sculptures. Thankfully she was very happy to receive candy floss on a glowing stick and play with that as we pushed her around. It was worth a look but we’ve enjoyed previous years more.

Cube

Looking up at Cube

Glow

Where has the candy floss gone?

Bloom

In amongst Pau Rama

Watching Pom and Pom dancing around

The playground lit up for Capital-E Colourplay

Playing with a marble maze, part of Capital-E Colourplay

Testing the Newton’s Cradle that is called Cradle2Cradle

LUX Light Festival 2017

After a hiatus in 2016 the LUX festival was reconfigured and back lighting up the Wellington night for 2017. Starting earlier in the year meant that the installations were powered up earlier in the evening which allowed us to attend with Alayna at a reasonable hour which was a bonus. The works were divided into precincts which was a logical progression and overall the organisation seemed improved on previous years, for instance having two areas set up with food trucks reduced the queues and the crowds.

We attended as a family twice and invited along some of Alayna’s friends and their families and this helped give the visits some variety. Both times we started with some food and then facepainting before setting out to explore the installations beginning with the Playground precinct.

Control No Control by Studio Iregular was a firm favourite and probably my pick for best installation. A large cube with a changing roster of lighting effects linked interactions. Touching the walls caused the effects to change and with plenty of space a large number of people could interact at the same time. Fun to play with and fun to watch it set a very high bar.

CONTROL NO CONTROL - STUDIO IREGULAR https://www.lux.org.nz/control-no-control

CONTROL NO CONTROL – STUDIO IREGULAR

CONTROL NO CONTROL - STUDIO IREGULAR https://www.lux.org.nz/control-no-control

CONTROL NO CONTROL – STUDIO IREGULAR

The little lion

Our little lion enjoying herself with Control No Control

The nearby Social Sparkles by Studio Toer was also interesting with suspended lights like hyperactive little fireflies following people as they moved below. Alayna for some reason wasn’t interested at all in this installation, perhaps the nearby sights and sounds of Control No Control were simply more engaging for a 3 (nearly 4) year old.

SOCIAL SPARKLES - STUDIO TOER https://www.lux.org.nz/socialsparkles

SOCIAL SPARKLES – STUDIO TOER

Capital-E had a couple of shipping containers set up with things to do. One had a sort of VR action game where hand movements influenced (rather than controlled) geometric shapes in front of a large face displayed on large screens. Of more interest to Alayna and her friends was the Electro Jungle where a black light lit container contained fantastical beasts and a forest which could be drawn on using glowing chalk. As with the last LUX there was also an area on the waterside path set aside for glow-in-the-dark chalk activities but it was much warmer (if cramped) in the container.

Alayna enjoying drawing on the walls of the electro Jungle with her friend.

Alayna enjoying drawing on the walls of the Electro Jungle with her friend.

Black light friends

Black light friends

Nearby was a totem-like installation named St Elmo’s Fire Tree created by Nelson local Anthony Genet. Four chaotic balls of fluorescent tubes sparked to life in glowing red. When the wind was blowing strong the straps helping to keep the piece in place would thrum adding to the almost ritual feeling of the piece.

ST ELMO'S FIRE TREE - ANTHONY GENET https://www.lux.org.nz/st-elmos

ST ELMO’S FIRE TREE – ANTHONY GENET

Walking on to the Te Ao Mārama Precinct there were a couple of highlights. Tane Te Wānanga by Hemi MacGregor & Mara TK was a giant waterscreen in the middle of the lagoon which was captivating to watch and the amphitheatre seating at the edge of the lagoon made this a perfect spot to sit and take in the projections. Geometric shapes and dancers appeared and moved set to music and sounds while the wind through the water screen changed the size and intensity of the projection.

TANE TE W?NANGA - HEMI MACGREGOR & MARA TK https://www.lux.org.nz/tanetewananga

TANE TE WĀNANGA – HEMI MACGREGOR & MARA TK

Neaby was another intriguing installation. Kaokao by Bob Jahnke. Two large Xs side to side and with red neon tubes enclosed in glass were striking from a distance and then close up the internal reflections made the neon appear to duplicate to infinity. It gave the piece a hidden depth and led to many people wandering around trying to figure out the optical illusion. I played around with shutter speeds and manual zooming to give an added effect to some of my photos.

KAOKAO - BOB JAHNKE https://www.lux.org.nz/kaokao

KAOKAO – BOB JAHNKE

KAOKAO - BOB JAHNKE https://www.lux.org.nz/kaokao

KAOKAO – BOB JAHNKE (with added zoom)

We also happened to see the returning Lux Cats near Kaokao. First featured in 2015 these cats wandered around the Lux precincts in mysterious fashion. They happened to stop nearby and just stood there, occasionally turning there heads and appearing to stare at people. After a period of time and with no warning they started walking again, very enigmatic.

Light cats

Light cats

The Circus Precinct took in Civic Square and the City to Sea bridge and was our next destination. To one side of the bridge in the grass space fronting the Michael Fowler Centre there was an installation called Passing Me By created by Christopher Welch & Makers Fabrication. For a static piece this one was quite playful. If you stood in one place it was simply a wall with different colours glowing under the black lights. If you walked in parallel to the work the colours changed with the change in perspective. Many people were just standing and staring without realising how fun it was to view while moving and try to figure out what was going on.

PASSING ME BY - CHRISTOPHER WELCH & MAKERS FABRICATION https://www.lux.org.nz/passingmeby

PASSING ME BY – CHRISTOPHER WELCH & MAKERS FABRICATION

Then on to the big display projected onto the council building. Circus of Light by Ocubo was a circus illustrated in an animated cutout style and involved a variety of animals performing (generally lame) tricks and most often failing in an unamusing fashion. Alayna summed it up for me when she asked after a few minutes “when does the real show start?”. It was pretty but overall for me and Alayna just boring. Plenty of other people seemed to find it enjoyable. The artists and acrobats entertaining between screenings were much more fun to watch.

CIRCUS OF LIGHT - OCUBO https://www.lux.org.nz/circus-of-light

CIRCUS OF LIGHT – OCUBO

Civic Square hula hoop

Civic Square hula hoop

Also found in Civic Square and then wandering around the festival were a pair of woman wearing Little Sun solar light dresses promoting the Little Sun project. Again this was a return from 2015 where there was a static installation of Little Suns displayed on a grid and it was good to see them back in a different form.

Little Sun solar light dresses

Little Sun solar light dresses

I was hoping for a night of rain during the festival but this didn’t happen during any of my visits. I like to photograph the reflections and reflected glow of the installations and I think the work Drawn by Lisa Munnelly & Angus Donaldson would have become even more interesting in those circumstances. Pretty much just some net curtains drapped over a large lightbox Drawn was interesting to watch when there was a wind blowing, the interferance patterns created by the fabric covered light were mesmerising at times.

DRAWN - LISA MUNNELLY AND ANGUS DONALDSON https://www.lux.org.nz/drawn

DRAWN – LISA MUNNELLY AND ANGUS DONALDSON

Near Drawn was Augmented Geometries by Erica Sklenars, another projection mapping work. I liked the contrast with the grafetti covered wall below and the sequence was a lot more interesting (albeit on a smaller scale) that something like the Circus of Light.

AUGMENTED GEOMETRIES - ERICA SKLENARS https://www.lux.org.nz/copy-of-imperial-ghosts

AUGMENTED GEOMETRIES – ERICA SKLENARS

My other favourite installation was Into the Underscore by Anita Dykes. A series of light emiting hoops suspended between buildings off Opera House Lane the colours and sequenced noises created an interesting if slightly disquietning show. Many people would approach and stand underneath mesmerised and looking like they would be transported up and away to some alien spaceship. This would have been another piece that would have looked great in the rain with reflections but the most I got was a section of hoops reflected in a tiny puddle.

INTO THE UNDERSCORE - ANITA DYKES https://www.lux.org.nz/into-the-underscore

INTO THE UNDERSCORE – ANITA DYKES

INTO THE UNDERSCORE - ANITA DYKES https://www.lux.org.nz/into-the-underscore

INTO THE UNDERSCORE – ANITA DYKES

INTO THE UNDERSCORE - ANITA DYKES https://www.lux.org.nz/into-the-underscore

INTO THE UNDERSCORE – ANITA DYKES, using the zoom technique again

Stretching Light by Joshua & Sam Lewis was a suspended lightwork above Opera House Lane. A number of neon strings navigating through a series of geometric frames it was diverting and an interesting addition to the laneway.

STRETCHING LIGHT - JOSHUA LEWIS & SAM LEWIS https://www.lux.org.nz/stretching-light

STRETCHING LIGHT – JOSHUA LEWIS & SAM LEWIS

Over the road above just past the entrance to Eva Street was The Light Launder by Rayzordoll. A larger than life washing line with suspended linen was used as a medium to project slides of family memories. Eva Street is now home to a number of light installations that had their beginnings in past Lux festivals so it’s always interesting to have a look around.

THE LIGHT LAUNDER - RAYZORDOLL https://www.lux.org.nz/thelightlaunder

THE LIGHT LAUNDER – RAYZORDOLL

So that’s a selection from this years LUX festival. I’m looking forward to the next one already and in the meantime there is a new light event planned for the Hutt Valley taking place later this year. The more the merrier I say :)

NZ Festival: Power Plant

Power Plant is a light and sound installation being held in the Botanical Gardens as part of the NZ Festival. I went along on Tuesday night which was lovely and mild with little in the way of wind. I arrived at the Cable Car terminal in the gardens to find a vast crowd of people all waiting their turn to wander through the defined path that Power Path had been installed along.

In the end those of us in the 9pm start group started walking around 9:30pm. Obviously fair weather meant that everyone decided it’d be a good night to attend. This meant that for the whole experience (I got back up to the cable car at 11pm) there were crowds of people and on the narrower parts of the path queues. In the end I think it was a good and bad thing. Good in that it meant all the installations were interacted with and there was never enough people that I couldn’t get up close to have a better look at anything. Bad in that it was slow going and none of the installations seemed intimate, and it wasn’t possible to spend a lot of time in any one place due to the constant flow of others passing by. I would also have liked to have experienced the event with smaller numbers as I think being alone of nearly alone with some of the works would have raised the atmosphere level considerably.

One thing that was not mentioned on the Festival website or the booking website (or the tickets) was that photography was not allowed. As there was no warning a lot of people had turned up with cameras and for the most part people ignored the photography directive. I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked but this was more due to the crowds, its just impolite to stand in the middle of a path and take photos. However, as I had come prepared for photography I took a few photos which you can see below.

There can't be many nights in Wellington calm enough to allow hanging smoke outdoors. Tonight was one such night.

There can’t be many nights in Wellington calm enough to allow hanging smoke outdoors. Tonight was one such night.

The crowds were able to move more freely as we approached the duck pond. The DJ choreographed fire show was worth stopping for.

The crowds were able to move more freely as we approached the duck pond. The DJ choreographed fire show was worth stopping for.

Lamps were on the path and tucked away underneath trees. They pulsed and glowed as the eerie music emerged from the darkness.

Lamps were on the path and tucked away underneath trees. They pulsed and glowed as the eerie music emerged from the darkness.

The lights and music combined wonderfully.

The lights and music combined wonderfully.

One of the last installations and visually one of the more impressive the neon highlights and multicoloured spinning lights combined again with unsettling music for a spectacular impression.

One of the last installations and visually one of the more impressive the neon highlights and multicoloured spinning lights combined again with unsettling music for a spectacular impression.

Power Plant was worth a visit though having now experienced it with a large proportion of the Wellington population I can’t quite recommend the experience. Compared to free installations such as the annual light show in the Botanical Gardens for the summer festival and the Lux festival held in Wellington last year I think the Power Plant experience was generally better overall but the effect was spoilt by the crowds.

A long time between drinks

This blog hasn’t been forgotten, no matter that it’s been a few months between entries. Much of the delay can be attributed to Keryn and I buying a house and the rigmarole surrounding moving. Thankfully we’re mostly done with the moving lark, there are still a few boxes to empty and we’ve got one set of curtains still to arrive but otherwise we have a home and we’re happy (and warm, it’s nice to have proper insulation).

Moving hasn’t stopped us from getting out and about on a few occasions. Rather than bore with detail you can just look at some photos instead.

IMG 4832Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Watching a steam train firing up at the Paekakariki based Steam Incorporated open day.

IMG 4845Photo by Brendon & Keryn

And in action.

MG 6144Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Spoonbills observed at the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve while of a walk with Kapiti Bird Tours organised through Adventure Wellington.

IMG 4849Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Still on the tour and checking out some friendly eels.

Small waterfall on Tane's TrackPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A pretty little waterfall seem on Tanes Track at Tunnel Gully north of Upper Hutt.

ApproachingPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The tunnel at Tunnel Gully

IMG 4910Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Sunset from Titahi Bay

IMG 4931Photo by Brendon & Keryn

And another sunset photographed while standing on the roof at home

IMG 4941Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Gandalf the Grey, one of the new line of statues produced by Weta for the forthcoming Hobbit movies. Seen at the Weta Cave.

MG 6239Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Visiting Kaitoke on a wet day.

IMG 4956Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Starting a photowalk with the Wellington Photography Meetup group, having just viewed the 2012 World Press Photography exhibition.

IMG 4970Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Take-off seen while out on the walk.

IMG 4977Photo by Brendon & Keryn

On the waterfront.

IMG 5031Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Back to Tunnel Gully, this time with Keryn, and we were solving a fern-themed Geocache.

IMG 5052Photo by Brendon & Keryn

walking through the tunnel.

Geocaching is a fairly new hobby we’ve taken up, fuelled by the enthusiasm demonstrated by Sophie and Travis. It also helped that we had vouchers to spend at FCO and they had a nice range of handheld GPS devices to choose from. Any excuse to get outside is a good one I reckon.

U2

We travelled up to Auckland last week, primarily to see U2 on Thursday night at Mt Smart Stadium. Along with Keryn’s parents, Travis and Sophie we drove to the stadium (so glad we didn’t use public transport) and found parks easily enough, if a little distant from the stadium itself. Approaching the stadium we could hear Jay-Z starting his set and he was still playing when we got to our seats. We had cheap seats in the temporary North stand which had cost $40 each (if you don’t count the exorbitant fees charged) and we were right behind the stage in the middle with four seats at the front and two more a couple of rows back. The stage resembled a giant claw, the giant 360 video screen giving us a good view of any action we couldn’t directly see. Anyway, Jay-Z seemed to be enjoying himself and sections of the crowd were dancing away but I wasn’t that fussed. He was entertaining enough, just not to my musical taste. Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce was also in attendance, Keryn and I didn’t see her but the others did from their front row seats.

IMG 0955Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The claw during Jay-Z’s set.

Once done warming up the crowd the stage was cleared by a small army of crew, there seemed to be one person for everything on stage and they were like ants crawling up and back with the gear. The Elbow song One Day Like This came over the PA and three of the crew came down in front of our seats and attempted to start a Mexican wave. It took a while, the north section of the crowd picked it up quite quickly but getting the transfer to the west stand took longer but eventually the wave took hold, just as the song picked up. It was a good stadium moment and did more to get the crowd going than the previous live music.

IMG 0960Photo by Brendon & Keryn

U2 arrive on stage.

Then U2 arrived. We were treated to a couple of hours of songs, new and old. There was less stage clutter and the band moved around the vast stage, a number of times performed for us at the back. The lights and sound were great (though it was very very loud) and if the temperature had been just a bit warmer with less of a breeze then it would have been fantastic. There was a lovely tribute to the victims of the Pike River Mine disaster, songs pulled from the classic back catalogue and a few newer numbers as well. The stadium was turned into a starry night near the end of the set, the lights off and thousands of phones twinkling in the blackness, it looks great from our viewpoint. We had watched the band arrive and got to wave them goodbye as they left below our seats.

IMG 0964Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Bono coming around the stage.

IMG 1009Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The claw all lit up.

IMG 1073Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Mirrorball action.

IMG 1091Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A sea of stars.

IMG 1097Photo by Brendon & Keryn

All done.

U2 get mocked for being pretentious, spouting dogma in the form of self indulgent music. I enjoyed the performance and the music, there were political messages but I didn’t mind it and didn’t find anything preachy at all. There was good music, a good show and we had a great time in the cheapest seats in the house, no complaints from me.

An Aside: What I’m Listening Too

I am not a music critic, not even close. I generally either like what I’m hearing or don’t. I don’t listen to the radio, and it’s fair to say I’m influenced nearly 100% by a combination of music I’ve liked in the past and the websites I regularly visit. Taking a nod from the New Stuff playlist on my ipod and the plays field this is what I’ve been listening too:

Barenaked Ladies
You Run Away – Barenaked Ladies

It might be a clich├ęd, safe and soppy pop song and probably you’re no longer allowed to like Barenaked Ladies unless you’re from Canada but I like the track (even if I haven’t really liked much of the album it comes from, All In Good Time).

The Coral
Butterfly House – The Coral

I mentioned this track when it played in the car the other day and Keryn said something along the lines of “Isn’t that a bit 60’s?”. Exactly.

The Like
He’s Not A Boy – The Like

I like The Like, just not all of their songs. This is obviously a track I am partial too. Harking back to the bouncy girl bands of days long past its a reasonably fast, catchy and bubbly track. I turned down a chance to see The Like in London for free because I didn’t like the venue (how very snobbish), I think this was a mistake.

Arcade Fire
Month of May – Arcade Fire

I’m a big fan of Arcade Fire and this track takes them into a new punk-rock territory that comes across like they’ve lived in the area for ages. Fast and punchy, I’ve ordered the album and look forward to it arriving in my inbox (order from their website and it costs about half of what you’d pay in NZ online, am I one of the few people who still pays for 95% of my music?).

Marina & the Diamonds
Starstrukk – Marina & the Diamonds

A cover of the 3OH!3 track (that’s a band name, I don’t think I’m cool enough to understand). I read the other day that Ms Marina Diamandis isn’t yet popular in the UK because she has only sold slightly over 100,000 copies of her debut album. I’m sure any NZ artist would give their left arm for sales of that level. This hasn’t stopped me loving her music for months now and I enjoy the life of the tracks, its a good pick me up on those early morning drives home from work. Marina’s vocal delivery puts some people off, I like the singing. Pop with attitude and she has one of those smiles that lights up and makes everything seem better. This track hasn’t appeared on a physical release and was given away free on a recent newsletter. Try the Hype Machine if you’re tracking down a copy.

How To Destroy Angels
Furr Lined – How to Destroy Angels

The new band from Trent Reznor featuring vocals from his wife Mariqueen Maandig. I like most of the EP but Furr Lined has been slowly becoming my favourite. Lowfi NIN, the track grooves along with the breathy vocals floating above the beat. Download the new EP via their website linked above.

Laura Veirs
July Flame – Laura Veirs

Off the popular radar but has been making interesting and intelligent music for ages. Off the same named album this track is a slow burner but is another that just gets better with repeat listening. Singer songwriter with interesting instrumentation and lyrics that draw you in.

Erland and the Carnival
Trouble in Mind – Erland and the Carnival

Slightly off beat, with more than a hint of 70’s folk rock. I like the quirky nature of the music and on this track I like the catchy chorus. The whole album is good and a great antidote to crappy shopping centre music.

Mumford & Sons
Untitled – Mumford & Sons

Many call it New Folk music, I just call it good honest music. Making the banjo popular (again?) Mumford & Sons play uplifting and often raucous folk tracks that demand a tapping foot and possibly even dancing. The track Untitled features in a rousing live version recorded as part of their now not so recent Toad Session. You can listen, watch and download via the Song By Toad website. Now if only they’d visit New Zealand rather than persistently stopping over the ditch.

Laura Marling
Nature of Dust – Laura Marling

Another purveyor of fine folk music Laura’s music gets better the longer I listen. This track is one of the livelier tracks on her second album, if rather short. Simple and fun, I like it. Laura is another who can’t seem to make that step across to NZ when touring Australia, perhaps she gets the idea from her boyfriend who sings in that Mumford outfit?