Work­ing for a brighter Glow

Santa Mon­ica’s first noc­tur­nal art party drew a too-large crowd. Here’s Take 2.

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - Alie Ward

The 2008 art fes­ti­val was over­whelmed by crowds. This time, or­ga­niz­ers say that they’re ready.

When a Hollywood project flops, it doesn’t usu­ally get a se­quel. But Santa Mon­ica is not Hollywood. Case in point: Glow.

The bi­en­nial art fes­ti­val launched with a one-night event in July 2008, which ended in dis­ar­ray. The idea of Glow was to bathe the Santa Mon­ica Pier and the sur­round­ing beach with light from 20 ra­di­ant in­stal­la­tions, a sort of Cal­i­for­nia ver­sion of Nuit Blanche, the an­nual noc­tur­nal art party staged in cities around the world.

But Glow’s prom­ises of all-night mu­sic sets and lu­mi­nous art drew 10 times the ex­pected crowd, with nearly a quar­ter-mil­lion peo­ple flood­ing Santa Mon­ica Beach. The re­sult was a board­walk clogged with peo­ple, in­stal­la­tions too in­ti­mate to be seen over the mobs and a sense of bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment. The mu­sic was shut off. The pier was closed down. A glow-stick ex­hibit was plun­dered by rowdy at­ten­dees.

“Last time it was more of a free-for-all in terms of the rules,” says artist Hadrian Pre­dock, who at­tended Glow in 2008 and is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 2010 ver­sion. “Kids showed up on the beach ex­pect­ing a rave and DJs in­stead of an art fes­ti­val. It’s be­ing pro­moted a lit­tle more care­fully this time, and the city in gen­eral is a lot more mo­bi­lized to deal with the pos­si­bil­ity of large crowds.”

Af­ter two years of re­or­ga­ni­za­tion, Glow is back, with the sec­ond event tak­ing place in the area around the Santa Mon­ica Pier from dusk Satur­day un­til 3 a.m. Sun­day. This time, or­ga­niz­ers say, they’re bet­ter pre­pared.

“This event will be more fo­cused on the art. I think that got lost in the crowds and the scale of the last event,” says Jes­sica Cu­sick, cul­tural af­fairs man­ager for the city of Santa Mon­ica. “And we have way more vol-

un­teers and in­creased pri­vate se­cu­rity. It won’t feel like a po­lice pres­ence, but I think ev­ery­one will feel safe.”

“What they’ve worked on is mak­ing art for that large a crowd,” says Anne Bray, a par­tic­i­pat­ing artist and found­ing di­rec­tor of the new me­dia arts or­ga­ni­za­tion Free­waves.

As an ex­am­ple, Bray and her team of artists and en­gi­neers are dis­play­ing “In­ter­sec­tion,” a seven-story ex­hibit pro­jected onto the wall of the Hol­i­day Inn at Ocean and Colorado av­enues. “In­ter­sec­tion” aims to be a med­i­ta­tion on words and se­man­tics, fea­tur­ing an­i­mated texts and word­play such as “scared” and “sa­cred,” ac­com­pa­nied by com­put­er­gen­er­ated vi­su­als and live elec­tronic mu­sic. Bray says that such a large-scale project can cater to a wan­der­ing crowd that is ex­pected to be as many as 300,000 peo­ple strong.

Other Glow in­stal­la­tions in­clude an of­fer­ing from Los An­ge­les-based art and tech col­lec­tive Syyn Labs, which is trans­form­ing a trel­lis into a 100-foot-long DNA dou­ble helix, con­structed from 512 com­puter-con­trolled LEDil­lu­mi­nated balls. Echo Park col­lec­tive Ma­chine Project is stag­ing an er­satz camp­fire, around which sea chanteys will be sung. “La Bella Luna,” con­ceived by artist Anne Her­lihy, in­volves a karaoke tent in which each par­tic­i­pant will sing about the moon — as a video feed of his or her face is pro­jected on an orb above the tent, giv­ing the crooner a lu­nar ap­pear­ance.

Robert Chapin, Jes­sica Cail and Ian For­rest have col­lab­o­rated on the ex­hibit “Mus­cle Beach Glow,” fea­tur­ing ac­ro­bats in glow-inthe-dark leo­tards swinging from out­door gym­na­sium rings un­der black lights, all against a sonic back­drop of beach-themed mu­sic.

Other out­door sights in­clude a fab­ric canopy dot­ted with phos­pho­res­cent bal­loons, rigged by Joshua How­ell and Aaron Zeligs. The artists de­scribe the ex­hibit, meant to repli­cate a starry night, as a “respite amidst the in­ten­sity of Glow.” Which brings up, well, the in­ten­sity of Glow.

Part of the chal­lenge of this year’s fes­ti­val is ad­just­ing pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions. The city of Santa Mon­ica Cul­tural Af­fairs Di­vi­sion is­sued a blunt caveat: “Glow is a night­time art event.... It is not a rave.”

Pre­dock, with John Frane, his part­ner in a Santa Mon­ica-based ar­chi­tect firm, is erect­ing “Lu­mi­nous Pas­sage,” a glow­ing land bridge stretch­ing from the board­walk to the break­ing waves. Its func­tion is less about a trippy light show and more a vis­ual com­men­tary about the meet­ing of the me­trop­o­lis and the open ocean.

Pre­dock as­pires to cre­ate a med­i­ta­tive, vis­ceral en­gage­ment with his glow­ing bridge, lead­ing the par­tic­i­pant from the bus­tle of the city to “sit­ting and lis­ten­ing, hear­ing the waves, smelling the ocean.”

But un­like 2008, don’t ex­pect to linger on the sand un­til sun­rise. This year’s fes­ti­val shuts down at 3 a.m., partly be­cause of fund­ing.

“We’re call­ing this the ‘re­ces­sion-era ver­sion’ be­cause we’ve chopped four hours out of it,” muses Nathan Birn­baum, Santa Mon­ica’s cul­tural af­fairs su­per­vi­sor. “When there’s non-re­ces­sion fund­ing, we’ll go back to the 12 hours.”

Ev­i­dently, hopes for a third in­stall­ment of Glow re­main high.

Francine Orr

THEN: For 2008’s Glow, Freya Bardell, with Brian Howe, cre­ated a float­ing in­stal­la­tion of plas­tic bot­tles.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.