Torch-bearing "guerrillas" look to light up cities

Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:30am EDT
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By Alexandra Hudson

ISTANBUL (Reuters Life!) - Armed with nothing but powerful torches the foot soldiers of the "guerrilla lighting" movement gather in front of gloomy, nocturnal buildings, take aim, then bathe them in brilliant light.

The manifesto of the group of young designers declares war on "bad lighting" and "wasteful use of light" and the movement has illuminated buildings across Europe to show how a more artistic use of light can breathe new life into cities.

"People don't realize how effective lighting can be. Most would just buy some floodlights if they wanted to light something and wouldn't think about how to show the building at its best," said Chantelle Stewart, one of the organizers.

In Istanbul's historic Galata district 40 locals have volunteered to work with the group as torch bearers.

With a co-ordinated burst of light they transform some of the grand but drab buildings, picking out architectural features such as columns or ledges with their beams, and making them instantly imposing and beautiful.

They even light Istanbul's landmark Galata tower -- after first asking local authorities to switch off the floodlights -- replacing the flat yellowish-orange light that usually illuminates the tower's base for upward shafts of light which make the tower look longer.

Guerrilla lighting shows have wowed audiences across Scandinavia, Britain and Ireland. In Dublin it led to a commission to devise permanent lighting for a city square.

"EMPLOY US!"   Continued...