97. Bearing Witness

“Bearing Witness” 1: Design

My talented friend George Sfougaras created this artwork, Bearing Witness, in response to the terrible events at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, on 13th November 2015.


Unlike the previous artwork that I created lighting for, the shadows here are permanently present regardless of lighting. My challenge was to add light in a manner sympathetic to the artist’s vision.

To me, there are two themes in this work. Firstly, there are the candles, symbolic of the power and delicacy of life. Then there are the shadows leading back to one point, a harsh statement of uninvited power.

I didn’t want to create shadows of my own. So I decided to support these two themes. Firstly, the candles. Each candle will be lit from below with a diffuse flickering yellowish glow. Not all candles will be lit at once. They will ignite, glow for a while, then die, with two or three active at any one time. This will be the usual state.

Then the harsh light. There will be one high-brightness pure white directional lamp at the apparent source of the permanent shadows. Very occasionally, this light will eclipse the others for a second or two, leaving only the permanent shadows as a reminder of its interruption. This is, in fact, the critical moment of experiencing the work, so I decided to add a sensor that would trigger the lamp as the viewer approaches. This makes the viewer both the instigator of the change and experiencer of its effects.

The following posts document the process of realising this vision.


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