One of the more novel uses of automated lighting took place this past spring in Washington, DC, when Current Events International, the technical production company, helped facilitate the temporary Finnish Embassy Lighting Display at the Dupont Metro station. The city of Helsinki selected artist Annikki Luukela to provide a lighting design to commemorate the visit of Helsinki mayor Eva-Riita Siitonen to the US capital. Luukela, working with Current Events, installed 42 Martin Professional MAC 500 and 600 moving spot and wash luminaires inside the Dupont station.
DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Mayor Siitonen, along with the managers from the Metro, officially opened the display with a ceremony that took place on March 14. The exhibit displayed a colorful wash of lights on the ceiling of the station's escalator; anyone entering the station would see a display of changing colors as he or she descended the escalator to the bottom level. Additional units, giving off gold light, were programmed to project stars featured within cobalt and purple constellations at the bottom of the escalator, and on the ceiling at the entrance to the station's mezzanine. The effect was that of an eerie transformation to the station's concrete bunker design.
In a funny way, the light show was the perfect way to honor a Finnish dignitary. As Anneli Halonen, cultural counselor at the Finnish Embassy, who conceived the project, told The Washington Post, "Light art is big in Finland. We have very long winters with little light. Light is very important. It affects a person's life." And who among us couldn't use a little more color in his or her life?
The Finnish Embassy Lighting Display, up for eight weeks, was taken down in mid-May.