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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lux Helsinki

Helsinki puts on something called "Lux Helsinki" from December 31 to January 9 as, my guess, a way to make the let-down from Christmas not so dramatic and to take advantage of the long days and (normally) white and blue landscape.  Essentially it's a series of light displays or installations using well-known landmarks as a backdrop (for more detailed information, see Lux Helsinki's website): Senate Square and the cathedral, the new Finlandia (music) hall, the lake/bay right near me, the Opera House, and the Tower from when Helsinki hosted the Olympics in 1952.  Since basically none of those things are more than 20 minutes walk from where I live or work--actually the Olympic Tower is a bit more right now since Ted and I are both meandering--I figured I'd go check them out a few days ago.

First stop was Senate Square since it's so close to work.  You know, even at night with the music playing (the lights are supposedly choreographed to the music), I just don't get the Rubik's cube installation on the left of the Square.  (Here's a picture of it in full glory on New Year's Eve.)

I mean, I might get it if the inventor was Finnish--he was actually Hungarian--or if there was something witty about it, but this just seems like it's trying too hard: "I'm iconoclastic because I insert a symbol of the commercialized, late 20th-century at its most stark in this setting devoted to neoclassical memories of Czarist imperialism.  The Rubik's cube may be small compared to these buildings, but it's starkness has survived as opposed to their military ambitions."  Cough, gag.  You know, as an academic, I deal with enough pretension, thank you very much.

The other installations I could appreciate, especially as the stark building style of modern Finnish design really allowed the artists to play with colors and shapes.

Finlandia hall, the new music center.
Unfortunately you can't see that the display was constantly in movement and the projectors showed all different colors, textures, and even some shapes in laser lighting moving against the building.

The best part for me, though, was going down to the lake on the 6th to check out the displays there.  Most of the displays from Finlandia hall to the Olympic Tower are easily viewable by walking only halfway around the lake, so I thought it would be a good test of my ever-so-slowly fading bronchitis and Ted's tendinitis to walk there and go about halfway around before retracing our steps to home.  (Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so these photos are scammed from the internet, but I did pick ones that were from this year's display and the time of day I was there.)

Well, the first thing we did was head to the end of the lake closest to downtown--also closest to where we come into the park.  From there I could watch the Finlandia hall display while fighting with Ted to keep him from wading into a lake that had a very thin sheen of ice on it.  (Yes, for Ted, walks are all about the smells with getting filthy a close second.)  I wish I'd HAD brought my camera, too, because at the southern end of the lake it opens up and you can look north to, on the right, Helsinki's in-town amusement park where they had the Ferris wheel and some towers lit up, in the center a beautiful manor house-like building all outlined with lights, and to the left the Olympic Tower with lights streaming up and down and a laser light shooting from the top.  All these lights plus the smaller ones of general city life were reflecting off the black lake while the sky was that lovely, dark twilight blue.

The Olympic Tower was fun, and watching it explained where that searchlight had been coming from for the last week or so.  Basically the lighting designer was running a bunch of different light patterns up and down the Tower itself.  I understand that there was music synchronized, but obviously (thank goodness) I couldn't hear it.

Here's a link to a video that gives you a better sense of the light's movement.

While the displays against the buildings and running up the Tower were cool, the best part were all the lanterns hanging from the trees around the lake's main walking path.  They were all different styles and in the twilight provided this lovely, somewhat ethereal glow.  Ted and I managed to see most of them before I decided that both he and I had had enough.

This gives you a great sense of the variety of lanterns.

I like this one because it was on and off sprinkling while we were walking.
Unfortunately this picture doesn't really do the lantern justice.  It was this great, mini-3D city that looked as if it had been cut out of paper.
This one made me smile: bird's nest as lantern.
This was really typical of what we saw looking in the trees.

Some of my favorite lanterns were the jellyfish.
Jellyfish at twilight.

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