This weekend, Downtown Binghamton’s LUMA Projection Arts Festival will return for its fourth year with an unprecedentedly ambitious lineup of installations and special events. LUMA is usually confined to just one Friday night each September, but this year’s festival will take place over the course of three days: Sept. 7, 8 and 9.
LUMA is the nation’s first and largest projection mapping festival, and this year’s outdoor projections are again open to the public, free of charge. LUMA organizers have also collaborated with other local arts organizations on partner events to be held throughout the weekend.
Binghamton City Councilman Conrad Taylor, ‘18, said that the festival has expanded in dramatic ways as a result of growing interest from the community.
“Last year was the first year I felt we were really touching a nerve and doing something spectacular, and this year is going to blow everything we’ve done out of the water,” he said.
From 9 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, animations and immersive landscapes will be projected onto four different building exteriors in the Downtown area and played on a loop throughout the night. The same projections will be featured both nights of the festival, so viewers who attend both nights can revisit their favorite buildings or see works they might have missed. Several projection mapping companies and independent artists from the United States and Europe will participate, including Binghamton-based company Favorite Color.
Taylor said that the festival organizers are excited to work with a diverse group of artists again this year.
“We’re going to be working with a worldwide portfolio of artists, and because of that, we’re going to have world-class art,” he said.
Taylor said that both the event programming and the projections themselves will be more complex this year, as proven by the festival’s technological upgrades in preparation for larger pieces. For example, whereas last year’s largest projection used five projectors, a new projection by Maxin10sity titled “The Neon Unconscious: Cyber Dreams” will use 17.
While LUMA’s outdoor projections remain free to the public, this year will be the first that ticketed events are hosted within the festival. For one such event, artists from Barcelona will partner with the Binghamton Philharmonic to host LUMA’s first indoor projection experience, “Transfiguracio.” There will be 10 ticketed performances throughout the weekend for this work, each featuring a 44-piece orchestral performance and synchronized light show coordinated by projection company Onionlab and composer Xavi Bové. Tickets for “Transfiguracio” will be $8 and can be purchased online at lumafestival.com.
In addition to the usual outdoor animations, there will be a few collaborative and interactive projections. The Department of Public Art’s “Mural Moments” will feature a series of digital murals submitted by community members, and Hypnotica’s “Reflection” will use 3D mapping technology to project visitors’ faces onto a building. A series of inflatable sculptures by Rhode Island-based design collective Pneuhaus will be on display Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Additional partner events held in the city this weekend include a LUMA afterparty for the LGBTQ community, an Opera and Beer event at Garage Taco Bar, a theremin concert featuring live dance and video projection, an e-textiles workshop and a dinner in the dark at Lost Dog Cafe.
While the projections portion of the festival will adjourn on Saturday night, the festivities will continue into Sunday, when the University Downtown Center will be hosting the first LUMA Storytellers Conference. This meeting is an opportunity to hear from the artists, writers, engineers and directors behind LUMA, and it will address the future of storytelling through new developments in animation and design. This event is ticketed at $5 per seat and is open to the public.
LUMA co-founder and producer Tice Lerner said that the weekend’s activities, especially the conference, are a great opportunity for BU students and community members to learn about innovations in art and technology.
“Whether they’re engineers, writers, film students, artists or photographers, we’re pushing the boundaries of storytelling in very unconventional ways,” he said. “It’s a good place to establish a network of like minds and generate ideas.”
Taylor said the city of Binghamton is an ideal location for LUMA not only because of its interesting architecture, but also because of the city’s current position at the crossroads of technological and artistic revival.
“Binghamton’s history is really a history of technology, but right now a lot of what Binghamton is known for is its culture scene,” he said. “LUMA lies at the intersection of two of Binghamton’s great strengths.”