Visiting the Luminarium

A few days ago I heard that the Luminarium had arrived in Jeddah.

Isn’t the name itself so awe-inspiring and mysterious? Reminded me instantly of the book ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern.

Anyway, I took out some time on the weekend to go see the Luminarium and the first word I can think of to describe the experience is: mesmerizing. It was mesmerizing, fascinating, calming, stimulating all in one. It was a giant inflatable, handmade organism that glowed gently from within with flickering lights in different hues and colors and a gentle soothing rumble of music resonated within it.

“Somewhere between a womb and a cathedral”

When I came home, I researched a little more about the founders of the “Luminaria”, who create these handmade inflatable sculptures of different shapes and sizes.

They call themselves “Architects of Air” (WOW!) and, inspired by gothic architecture as well as islamic geometry and architecture, they created the concept of this inclusive multi-purpose maze. A living sculpture, you could say, because every person who enters this labyrinth becomes a PART of the experience itself. And their reaction to it, an essential part of the art itself. It reminded me of our latest Skype discussion which was all about interaction in art. Based on the graphic Jonathan shared with us, the Luminarium was:

  1. Participatory and performative

  2. It allowed control, play, narrative, and immersion

  3. It was collaborative, connected and variable!

The Architects of Air originally designed the Luminaria as inclusive entertainment for those with special needs. It has now grown to include the general community but they continue to make it especially easy for the disabled to access and enjoy. They also collaborate with different communities to set up the Luminarium experience in different parts of the world.

That gave me an idea and I have reached out to them to set up an experience in Pakistan. I’m not sure what their rules and regulations are and how the process works, but fingers crossed, maybe we’ll manage to pull of a collaboration.

They mentioned on their website that they even do ‘add-ons’; special features within the Luminarium. If the collaboration works out, I intend to utilize these add-ons to create a circus-like experience in Karachi, Pakistan.

Anyway, so that’s all for the trip to the Luminarium. I love how they were inspired by gothic architecture because after reading about Antoni Gaudi I find myself inspired by the same!

To be perfectly honest, no matter how hard I try I can’t see the very very very big picture of where I’ll end up with all this exploration. But the hope is that somehow all these bits and pieces will come together in a perfect way to form a bigger whole. And like Jonathan said in the tutorial, we are not just aiming to understand our own art for the rest of our life (I don’t think the very nature of art allows that to even be a possibility!), we are aiming to contribute something unique to the world of art and at the same time find what we’d like to research on for the next two to five years. So, it’s okay if the big picture escapes me right? One step at a time? Turning over pieces of this giant jigsaw puzzle that is my MA project, till slowly slowly I see the picture forming.

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