Officially, the theme of this year’s Portland Winter Light Festival was "Between the River and the Stars.” In reality, though, it could also have been described as "connecting people to light.” Held at the beginning of February on Portland’s beautiful Willamette River waterfront, the free four-day festival engaged visitors with an abundance of immersive lighting displays and interactive events like "Illuminate Bike Rides” and a "Glow Jam” circus show.
Among the festival’s most engaging attractions was Harmony Park, an interactive exhibit created by Justin Metras, the founder of Portland-based Ellumiglow. Setting an appropriately immersive backdrop for this one-of-a-kind participatory exhibit was a celestial display created with six ILUMINARC Colorist Line 6Qa fixtures.
Metras used the RGBA linear fixtures to create a starry night sky, which he set against a fantastical Harmony Park "river” that immersed visitors in a multi-sensory experience. At the heart of this river were custom designed LED lily pads that emitted light and sound signatures when pressure was applied to them.
The nighttime sky created with the Colourist Line 6Qa fixtures harmonized seamlessly with Metras’ river. Arranged behind the LED pods, the RGBA linear fixtures were programmed to create a twinkling Northern Lights effect to complete the immersive experience.
Among the challenges that the Ellumiglow team faced was the task of engineering pods that were rugged enough for some 60,000 people to stand on while still being pressure sensitive. Syncing the music and light signatures was a software challenge, and keeping everything dry and serviceable required diligent effort. "The only no-brainer in this project was the decision to use the Iluminarc fixtures,” said Metras. "They were ideal.”
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