On the damp nights of Sept. 8 and 9, the LUMA Projection Arts Festival lit up Downtown Binghamton and proved triumphant over the ongoing rain. Crowds nevertheless gathered for iridescent exhibitions and traditional food trucks, savoring the city’s sense of community and the wonder of fine art.
What started as a mutual passion for art between three people in 2015 has since unfolded into one of Binghamton’s biggest annual events. LUMA celebrates the works of artists, designers, local workers and engineers, culminating into a vibrant community gathering that propels the city’s economy. With a mission to tell stories and accentuate Binghamton’s architectural beauty, LUMA is a heavily anticipated festival for both students and Broome County residents.
This year, LUMA continued to display exhibitions that beautifully intertwine visual and audio effects that highlight themes of nostalgia, history and the human experience as a whole.
“Web of Life,” a collaboration between Mindscape and Snow Raven, previous LUMA artists, created this piece to represent Arctic Siberian Sakha culture. The combination of Snow Raven’s chilling vocals and the blend of images representing different life forms and communities depicts the narrative of how interconnected the world is.
David Collins, second-year Ph.D. student in mathematics, described how the “Web of Life” exhibition captured his attention.
“The contrasting images of technology with Indigenous imagery were mesmerizing to watch,” Collins wrote. “Snow Raven’s hauntingly beautiful vocals only enhanced the overall experience. I was completely captivated for the few minutes it was on for, and I think it set a new high bar for LUMA [exhibitions].”
LUMA took it a step further this year with the addition of “Beyond,” a mesmerizing audiovisual experience created by Playmodes, a Barcelona-based research studio. For $5, attendees were immersed in a space that played with perception, depth and sound. Built inside a long tunnel, “Beyond” was designed to have the individual feel as if they are passing through a cascading mixture of light and dark movements.
Stephen Corbisiero, a senior double-majoring in environmental studies and geography, described his impression of the light displays featured at LUMA.
“I was particularly impressed by how each [exhibition] presented a unique perspective into life, our ever-changing society and the world today,” Corbisiero wrote in an email. “Not only do the artists accomplish this by the visuals we see and the audio we hear, but also the story they tell through their projections.”
Corbisiero went on to share his favorite part of the night.
“My favorite exhibition at LUMA was ‘Re-Naissance’ by Glitch!,” Corbisiero wrote. “It particularly stood out to me because of its comparison between past human history and the present through its use of stone as a metaphor. By showing the same stone being used to build ancient landmarks and Enlightenment statues, as well as tall skyscrapers and modern technology, it highlights how art and human accomplishment as a whole has evolved throughout time.”
Collins expressed his thoughts on how the festival continued despite the rain.
“My friends and I went to LUMA just after it had finished pouring on Friday night, and I was surprised by how fast all the exhibitions were up and running again,” Collins wrote. “It’s as if everyone knew how important LUMA is to the community, so they put in the work to reopen all the shows as fast as they could.”
Robert Murray, a junior majoring in biochemistry, also emphasized the community aspect of the event.
“The LUMA festival is a great opportunity to get together with your friends and family and experience art in a unique way,” Murray wrote.
Since its inception, LUMA has become a Binghamton staple of art, architecture and community that continues to exceed expectations through its light shows — something that a little rain can’t hold back.