Photos: Leni Schwendinger
The City of Uma
Leni Schwendinger Light Projects
For an international artists’ program, five artists were commissioned to design site-specific installations using the medium of light to line the streets leading to the town center. During the fall and winter seasons of 2003, Schwendinger created a temporal course - a sensuous environment suffused with liquid-light colors – leading to the central square.
Water Street in the town of Unna, Germany, is named for the stream beneath its surface and the path it makes to the Ruhr River. Hell Weg, or Bright Way, an ancient pilgrimage pathway crisscrosses the underground river. Glowing Waterway recalls the flows of water and footsteps that have traversed this path since the 15th century. Utilizing the cartographic lines as a launch point, Schwendinger created a graphic ripple-form as artwork in two ways, formed into a fiber optic strand mounted in mid-air, and recapitulated into a light projection cast onto the paving.
Visitors experienced Glowing Waterway as a street and as a river of light, redefined by a festoon of continuous, illuminated, aquamarine lines. The projected forms bathed the visitors as they rested on curvy concrete benches. Playing with perspective - the large-scale of the Hell Weg, the street-scale of Water Street, and the small-scale of a ripple - the installation was perceived on many levels and by many ages, children through adult.
Viewed from afar, luminous lines and patterns converged to create a path of sparkling water-light. Up close, Unna residents, workers, and visitors experienced the artwork as a gathering space for conversations and evening fun.