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11.03.2020

When the digital becomes romantic - renowned light artists interpret the theme of Luminale2020

Glowing swans on the pond, magical tales and virtual reality in the middle of the city. Philipp Geist, Marija Avramovic & Sam Twidale, Denis Bivour & Florian Giefer, as well as the artists' collective Xenorama, are the creators of major attractions for the Luminale - presenting a total of four highly independent interpretations of this year's theme "Digital Romantic".

The Alte Oper (Old Opera House), the Rechneigrabenweiher, the Bethmannweiher and the Eschenheimer Anlage will all be illuminated.  A poetic oasis of light and colors in the middle of the city, a magical Virtual Reality (VR) fairy tale experience, a mythological journey through digital structures and artificial swans executing a water ballet on the Reichneigrabenweiher: In addition to these four spectacular works of light art, the Luminale offers visitors an excellent opportunity to vividly experience this year's theme "Digital Romantic".

Many already know the internationally renowned light artist Philipp Geist from the last Luminale: in 2018, Geist presented a spectacular video mapping installation on the Römer in Frankfurt. This year, his large-scale installation "Ariadne's Night" will illuminate one of Frankfurt's spectacular former landmarks: the Bethmann Pond and the nearby Le Panther pavilion. The staging is meant to underline the original purpose of the place: as an oasis of beauty, art, nature and urban life amidst the historic ramparts.

The problem of poetically shaping the public space with the aid of modern media is explored by Xenorama, the five-man artists' collective, winner of numerous awards for its installations. What nuances are to be found in sober numerical sequences and digital aesthetics? Is there such a thing as digital romanticism? The atmospheric work BE\\LONGING is an artistic examination of these questions. The façade of the Alte Oper, peppered with mythological and poetic motifs, depicts a journey from linear, digital structures to sensual plays of light and the dreamlike vision of seemingly impossible scenarios. 

Denis Bivour and Florian Giefer make the confrontation with digital romanticism readily comprehensible: Their hyper-romantic installation "Cygnus" plays on the surface of the water of the Rechneigrabenweiher. Eight artificial swans begin to glow and then orderly form into a stunning water ballet. "Cygnus" takes the viewer on a journey into the "uncanny valley", the sinister vale where the boundaries between digital imagination and conventional reality become blurred.

Virtual reality also awaits Luminale visitors in the Eschernheimer Anlage. Using modern graphics, Marija Avramovic and Sam Twidale transpose an iconic film into the digital age. Sunshowers/Sunbeams was inspired by "Dreams", Akira Kurosawa's cult film, where the opening scene portrays a small boy who unexpectedly encounters a forbidden fox wedding in the woods. The film's poetic, magical fairytale language is transformed into techno-animism. Animism describes the belief that, in addition to mankind, nature too is animated - a thoroughly romantic phenomenon.

The AI system used for the characters is based on the artificial intelligence of video games, as well as techniques of neural networks and genetic algorithms, which allows them to make their own autonomous decisions. With his or her smartphone, the observer is invited to follow or interact with the various AI avatars in the form of animals, spirits, flowers, trees and stones, all of which behave very differently. Before one can fully experience the installation, the corresponding AR app "Sunbeams" must be downloaded from https://www.sunbeams.land/.

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