Sustainability themes were prevalent in this year’s installations (straight through to materials used), but the majority of the spectators gathered -in throngs on an early Saturday night-were predominantly engaged on the level of pure sensation. Lights whirled, flickered, sprayed, pulsed and coursed, set in and around the parks, plazas and squares of London’s concrete financial village. Liquid Sound in Cabot Square brought brash, unapologetic Las Vegas ostentatiousness to its choreographed fountain display; Affinity invited an audience to immersive itself in a neural network;
Stratum, with its grid of lights, conducted a symphonic conversation with viewers; the psychedelic forest of Sasha Trees (returning from last year’s programme) decorated a construction space with their hyperreal colours; Neon Tree and its nest of Chihuly-like squiggles pleasantly infested the body and limbs of a random tree in Canada Square Park;
the landscaped pools of Jubilee Park transformed into illuminated ball pits to the delight of kids (and more than a few adults), while nearby Squiggle unspooled like a river in tranquil undulation; Lactolight commanded Westferry Circus with its outsized circular wheel of light and sound array. The only piece not to work successfully was Sky on Earth which attempted to impart to a viewer the sensation of flying above a storm cloud (here mimicked by strobe lights and bubbles)-the space in which it was situated was too expansive and broad to be able to attain proper intimacy, and the way in which the crowd was marshalled through the experience was much too quick and rushed for any sort of meditative relation.
I will never quite understand the need to locate a selection of works indoors (a defeat of the purpose for an outdoor, after-hours lights festival), but much magic is made on a crisp January eve as you wander trails and paths to discover the next jolt of lit excitement. Canary Wharf Winter Lights ran through 25 January
Please visit Instagram for my video posts of this event