May 172012

A fascinating light show last weekend at the Tokyo Hotaru festival where Panasonic provided 100,000 solar powered LED lights to imitate fireflies floating down the Sumida River in the center of Tokyo. Lighting up on impact with water, the small lights (referred to as “Prayer Stars”) were later recovered downstream through the use of nets.

With all due respect to my many friends in Chicago, this surely beats dying the water of the Chicago river green on St. Patrick’s Day.  And as the technology becomes cheaper, smaller and more disposable, it becomes possible to undertake large-scale temporary projects like this. In a way, it is our effort to play with light just as people in the Middle Ages created their own narratives through sunlight and glass in the Gothic cathedrals. Theirs was more permanent, though the buildings had an ephemeral quality in the interplay of light and shadow. Our projects are entirely transitory, though they have an element of permanence in that they get recorded through digital photographs. Perhaps this is most appropriate for a digital world where everything solid seems capable of being transformed into the ephemeral and yet every digital activity leaves a trace that lingers long after the artifact has been dismantled (or deleted).

Two images below from the Creators Project website. From the ground, the Sumida river appears as ribbons of light trailing off into the distance; from the air, it is as if there is an electronic current coursing its way through downtown Tokyo. Enjoy.

tokyo hotaru festival - Sumida River


tokyo hotaru festival - Sumida River from above

Tokyo Hotaru Festival - Sumida River from above