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MONDO ARC

Pete Brewis - Editorial Comment

August / September 2013


An introduction to the latest issue from deputy editor Pete Brewis


Pete Brewis, deputy editor, writes:  It's always interesting to learn the backstory to an iconic work of art - seeing the contact sheet for that famous photo or discovering the tale behind a favourite song - so it was fascinating to hear a recent BBC interview with legendary music producer Giorgio Moroder in which he revealed the events that informed his creation of the Donna Summer classic I Feel Love.

“I was watching the movie Star Wars,” he says (somewhat unexpectedly), “and there was one scene with aliens singing in a cantina...” For a scary moment it sounds like George Lucas is going to be credited with inspiring one of pop’s greatest tunes, but thankfully not; for Moroder, Lucas’s plonkity Charleston knock-off was way off the mark. “That doesn’t sound like the future,” he thought. “It has to be something much more mechanical...” So Moroder went away and imagined his own version of what might constitute music in the far flung future. He created the first entirely synthesiser-based recording - a tune so successful it became a major template for much of the dance music that followed. By imagining the future of music, you could argue, he accidentally invented it.

And that’s the interesting take-away point: it can be all too easy to dismiss art as cerebral indulgence or pleasant visual fluff, but so many times in history it has been the artists who have provided those leaps of inspiration that have shaped the aspirations of not just the creatives, but the scientists and strivers too.

In our own industry, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (or perhaps more specifically the cinematography of Jordan Cronenweth) is constantly cited by lighting designers as a master class in the use of light and shade, and a handful will readily admit that this has fed into and informed their work over the years.

Art and its power to inform and inspire was one of the founding principles behind Sydney’s VIVID light festival, which I was able to see first hand this June. In its early years, VIVID Light (or Smart Light Sydney as it was first known) invited lighting creatives to submit artworks illuminated only by low-energy sources. At its heart was an environmentally-savvy message: energy saving doesn’t have to be at the expense of looking good, it said. Over the subsequent years, the ‘efficiency’ brief has become a de facto element of the festival, while its primary role has remained the same: to bring a bit of bright relief to the dulled-down winter months. Its popularity and scope has exploded; huge crowds swarm to the harbour edge to enjoy the spectacle, perhaps also taking away a wonder for - and appreciation of - the power of light. Who knows what creative sparks this year’s event may inspire.

In a more prosaic sense, VIVID was the inspiration for not only our trip down to Australia but also this extended mondo*arc Australia Special. As well as taking in the light art on show in Sydney (and in its friendly rival, Melbourne), we visited the SPARC exhibition, caught up with Australia’s thriving lighting design practices, met up with the country’s most successful manufacturers, took in the latest and greatest design projects (including an IALD Award winner, and architect Richard Roger’s first Australian project) and much more. In all we’ve served up over 60 pages of antipodean insights. We hope you enjoy.

 

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