Spring Lights is a local celebration of the arrival of spring in Vancouver, presented by the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
After a long winter of rain and darkness, Hfour created a weekend of illuminations, performance, and community; all under a canopy of cherry blossoms. It was a time to appreciate the ephemerality and beauty of nature. The core intentions of the experience are: to highlight the sense of awe for nature; to invite people to return to their city parks; and to act as a reminder of the ephemerality of all things.
This was the fifth year that Hfour projected onto and illuminated the cherry blossoms in Vancouver. It is the first event of its kind in the world, and has grown over the years in both scale and attendance. Due to the number of attendees in 2016, a plan was made to expand the experience to a larger area and to create more opportunities for engagement. Different groves of trees had different lighting and projection on them, creating different atmospheres of experience. The event caught a lot of attention on social media and in the local press, and despite needing to be rescheduled due to rain, the crowds appeared. An estimated 12,000 people attended the experience over the course of two days.
In addition to illumination and projections, 2017 featured 15 dance performances choreographed by Heather Laura Gray, geometric lanterns by Ari Lazer, and a musical soundscape by Adham Shaikh. The dance was a collection of movement vocabulary related to the spring and seasonal changes, with the definite intent of removing kitsch metaphors. The soundscape was a custom composition which expressed the beauty of nature without cultural flavours. Powering the experience were the silent eco-power systems by Portable Electric.
During the experience, hundreds of photos appeared on social media platforms, showing people’s appreciation of nature and the illuminated experience. The hashtag: #springlights2017 contains many photos taken by visitors.
Sincere thanks to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and Canada 150 for making it possible.
“This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.”, « Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grâce au gouvernement du Canada »
The following is the creative statement from the artist team:
Ephemerality of all things.
All things change, there is not absolute stability. 99% of all species that have existed on earth are currently extinct. Nothing is as it was. Everything is in constant change, whether it is imperceptibly slowly, or unfathomably quickly, everything is in motion.
The changing of the seasons create a sense of awareness of a longer passage of time, a longer unit of measure. Different from the daily cycle, a seasonal change, especially one marked by a rapid and noticeable change is a vivid reminder of longer passages of time. The arrival of the cherry blossoms, a brief moment of the year, acts as a symbol of the passage of the entire year. It’s a system of measurement of longer time, much like the first warm winds of summer, or the first snow of the winter. In our increasingly urban and measured lives, we see fewer and fewer reminders of long-time, and focus on more short measurements, like the countdown to 5pm on Friday.
The sense of perspective gained by viewing existence from a longer time-measure serves as a bittersweet purpose. It connects us with deep time, and the ancestral sense of existence. The blossoms bloom every spring, and have been doing so for centuries. When gazing at their beauty, with the perspective of long-time, one can’t help but be reminded of the generations past who did the same thing, and the generations hopefully to come. So we are but a blink of an eye in the long sense of temporal existence, and the reminder that life is short is filled with joy and anguish.
Fortunately, the blossoms act as a reminder that the relentless passage of time is filled with moments of beauty, to be celebrated if possible.
To express this feeling of ephemerality and its duality of joy and anguish, a creative style which matches the message is used. The blossoms are illuminated with projected light, each photon creating an experience for the engaged viewer’s temporal moment. There is no ‘finished work’ to be presented upon the completion of the experience. Only captured media and memories which serve to document the fact that the experiential artwork had existed, and the statement that: “we are here, celebrating the beauty of life’s moments, struggling to deepen our human experiences against before our brief time here and now draws to an end. We are here, now.”