An asteroid, sheep and magical mushrooms

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton

This holds true today what with the impact technology has on art. Nowadays art is more than a static visual experience for us to see – it allows us to participate, interact and be inspired. Light art today, more than ever before, allows us to lose ourselves within it.

Meet d3, an event held in the Dubai Design District celebrating art, culture and innovation was something we, as lighting designers, were really looking forward to. During the three-day event last month, the district came to life with works of art, design and fashion speckled with live performances and outdoor markets.

On a windy Saturday evening I made my way through an eager crowd towards the design quarter. I entered the plaza and found myself gazing at the large hand-painted canopy sheltering the space. Against the darkness of the night sky, the canopy appeared to be a luminous volume lightly hovering over us. It was crafted with panels of different sizes and painted with electric colors and geometric patterns. And, the scalloped opening perfectly framed a view to the Burj Khalifa, which was alive with dynamic lighting patterns pulsating on its façade.

I strolled along in the market to find the “Lasvit Intergalactic” by Petra Krausova and Libor Sostak. Having only seen videos of the “Supernova” by Lasvit, I was thrilled to see this installation, which was inspired by a journey of an asteroid entering the atmosphere. A giant sphere made up of thousands of hand blown glass elements, each is individually controlled creating sudden strobes of light animating its surface. It’s captivating with its golden glow, as it rests lightly on a striated metal bed.

Lasvit Intergalactic Art Meet d3 Dubai Design District Light Play

Further along I reached the Shrumen Lumen Plaza by FoldHaus – this was the place to be. Filled with loud laughter, jumping and playing children, it was buzzing with life. And there was no wonder – this installation consisted of gigantic origami-inspired mushrooms. Each structure grew in size and transformed its shape and color in response to movement around it. This interactive, kinetic installation transformed this plaza into an urban playground where people (including me!) were hugely intrigued by the real-time reactions.

Shrumen Lumen Interactive Mushrooms Dubai Design District Meet d3

One of the last exhibits I visited was the “Slipping, Tripping, Falling, Flipping” by James Clar. Here he tries to convey our relationship with technology and the importance of recovering from virtual pitfalls with a quirky light installation made of neon tubes.

Slipping Tripping Falling Flipping Light Installation James Clar Meet d3

I came out of the district feeling elated and inspired. At d3, I felt the magnificent potential light and technology holds to bring people together. The role of interactive and experiential art today is to allow the visitor to be an active participant and not a detached observer anymore. This event did that perfectly.

Blog post and images by Harshita Shetty