This weekend, the walls of shops, bars and government buildings in Downtown Binghamton will light up with the work of projection artists from all over the world as part of the fifth-annual LUMA Projection Arts Festival.
Since 2015, LUMA has attracted crowds of up to 30,000 people, and this year is expected to be no different. LUMA is the largest projections arts festival in the United States and has been positively reviewed by Forbes, Culture Trip and the Smithsonian.
Event co-founder Joshua Bernard said he developed the idea along with his friends when he moved to Binghamton for a job opportunity. At the time, the city was looking for a way to attract visitors from surrounding areas. In an effort to find something unique to attract people to Downtown Binghamton, the co-founders stumbled upon projection mapping, an art form involving projecting moving images and animations onto 3D surfaces, usually the facade of a building. According to Bernard, projection mapping has been popular in Europe for a number of years, where artists will often project their works onto historic architecture. However, projection mapping has yet to take off in the United States in a major way.
According to Bernard, Binghamton’s budding art scene, small town vibes and community cooperation made it the perfect location for a cutting-edge and creative endeavor like LUMA.
“Downtown was experiencing this great revitalization,” Bernard said. “Having done event planning in Binghamton in the past, we were really trying to bring more people in from the outside: Syracuse, Scranton and Ithaca to experience the Downtown Binghamton scene.”
In addition to bringing new life to the industrial architecture of Downtown Binghamton, LUMA offers opportunities for artists of various backgrounds and fields to express themselves through diverse forms of media, including symphonies, live video games and artificial intelligence. A new event coming to LUMA this year is the “Silent Disco After-Party” at Lost Dog Cafe. While LUMA weekend includes a multitude of after-parties, “Silent Disco” seeks to give guests a new and unique party experience. Guests will be provided with headsets, and a DJ will broadcast directly to them in real time. People will be able to select what genre of music they want to listen to and still be able to dance together.
This year, the artists presenting at LUMA hail from Budapest, New York City, Istanbul, Baku, Los Angeles and other cities around the world. One of the premier light shows this year will be held in the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena and features seven live performers interacting with the projections in real time.
“If you get to see one thing at LUMA this year, you have to see ‘The Challenge’ by Freckled Sky,” Bernard said. “It’s the first show in the [Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena]. It’s really special and almost like a magic trick. We have live human beings telling a story, dancing and interacting with cutting-edge technology. This is stuff that we’ll be seeing more and more five years from now.”