Longbridge Light Festival: 2014

Lantern Parade

The lantern parade is a stock feature of the light festival genre. The Longbridge Light Festival lantern parade, which featured a series of specially commissioned apparently unlit ‘lantern sculptures’ by artist Ruth Claxton, sought to re-work the lantern parade cliche as a subtle, technologically mediated participatory public artwork involving students from Turves Green Girls School. The lantern sculptures appeared unlit. But coated in retro-reflective pigment – you most commonly see retro-reflective material on cycling jackets – the sculptures were activated by shining a torch at them or using the flash on a camera phone. A distinctly contemporary material in that it has no content of its own, retro-reflective pigment is designed to directly ‘send back what it receives’ – an analogy perhaps for social media, Instagram or Facebook for example. Musician Andy Ingamells played a melancholic trumpet version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ whilst costumed Turves Green Girls School Students carried a series of miniature lantern sculptures created in workshops leading up to the event.