POSTED Fri. Dec 2, 2016


LUNA Fete 2016 Brings Giant Spheres and Illuminating Rainbow to Downtown New Orleans

How would you like to add a free multi-block party that also happens to be a walkable art and technology experience to your holiday roster of things to do? Not to mention, it’s interactive, kid-friendly, and full of light-based art.

LUNA Fete started with just one installation two years ago on Lafayette Square (602 Camp St) in downtown New Orleans. This year the Square will still be the festival’s home base, but it has spread out up Lafayette Street, merging with Harrah’s popular Miracle on Fulton Street event. The Fete will be held for four nights, 6-9 pm, Wednesday, December 7, through Saturday, December 10.

An annual initiative by the Arts Council of New Orleans, LUNA Fete marries art and technology in unprecedented ways, with emphasis on projection mapping, digital sculpture and light installations.

The festival’s initial projection mapping installation returns this year to Gallier Hall. This site-specific piece was created by France-based La Maison Production and follows the format of the 2014 piece, but has one surprise in store for us — a different ending.

Projection mapping, as an art form, and as part of the free public festival, has been around in Europe but is relatively new to the U.S., explains Lindsay Glatz, Director Marketing and Communication of Arts Council New Orleans.

“It’s really interactive and pretty incredible to see in person,” comments Glatz on the Gallier Hall project. “Kids love it.”

Another piece kids may especially enjoy is a new installation called Billie, by Montreal-based Lucion Media. It consists of spheres Glatz describes as “huge snow globes” that transform light into a paintbrush.

The spheres are sensitive to light, so the audience can interact with the installation by creating shapes and even their own portraits on the surface using flashlights, glow sticks, smartphones, or any other light-emitting device.

This year’s featured light projection is called Global Rainbow. It incorporates seven rainbow-colored high-specification lasers that will be shooting into the sky and onto Lafayette Square, explains Glatz. Global Rainbow was created by Berlin-based American artist Yvette Mattern and should be visible for up to 35 miles if the sky is clear.

Beyond the Square, Lafayette Street will be featuring the work of several New Orleans-based artists who’ve participated in the Arts Council training series last summer. One of the showcased pieces, Crystal Radio by Cristina Molina, is an audio/video installation housed in a moving truck converted for the occasion into a temporary exhibition space, with video projection on its exterior.

“The interior of the truck will be a listening station where people can hear the audio component of the artwork if they choose to engage with it,” explains Molina. “The way they would engage with it is they would agree to eat a rock candy lollipop. When they put a lollipop in their mouth and bite down they would be able to hear audio…When you bite on the lollipop the sound vibration travels from the sound base of the metal stick into your ear.”

Crystal Radio is powered by denta-mandibular technology, which basically “converts your head into a speaker.” The content components in both video and audio are modeled after Roland Barthes’ book titled A Lover’s Discourse.

Since the event is expected to draw thousands of people, what if the artist runs out of lollipops? Molina has a cool high-tech solution – a high tech Plan B – to keep the audio streaming, and you’ll just have to come see for yourself.

An installation by a local artist Jenna deBoisblanc, The Cave imagines what cave drawings would be like had they been done by machines instead of humans. Another notable piece is Titan the Bison by Brennan Steele, featuring audience portraits mixed in real time with prerecorded graphics and projected on a 20-foot multimedia sculpture of a bison.

The LUNA Bazaar Arts Market is also coming back to Lafayette Square, featuring 24 art vendors. There will be food trucks and food and drink vendors, like St. James Cheese Co., plus cotton candy, rotating dance performances, and other entertainment.

“Of course New Orleans had been known for film, and then we’re also seeing this sort of new technology scene that’s emerging out of the city,” says Glatz. “These things were happening simultaneously but they didn’t interact. It’s our effort to bring technology, film and contemporary art together.”

The 2016 Luna Fete will be held from Dec 7-10, from 6-9 pm, at Lafayette Square and other locations. Find more information at the Arts Council of New Orleans. Image: Bryce Ell, Arts Council New Orleans.

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