New Orleans will become a city of lights during LUNA Fête 2014, a European-style festival by the Arts Council celebrating the city’s art and culture scene.
The highlight of the weeklong event is a luminous, open-air video mapping installation, projected nightly onto the majestic façade of Gallier Hall.
“The mission behind LUNA Fête is to shine a light on the gift that is arts and culture in New Orleans,” said Kim Cook, the president and CEO of Arts Council of New Orleans.
The kaleidoscopic, three-dimensional display, which is set to music, will carry a New Orleans theme. The program was created by a group of French artists, La Maison Productions, who have visited New Orleans on numerous occasions.
The projections will take place twice nightly, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6.
“I don’t want to give away too much,” said Will French, the chairman of the LUNA Fête Committee for the Arts Council and also the president of Film Production Capital. “I’ll just say that it will loosely cover the history of the city of New Orleans and will be very much geared towards representing our culture, heritage and music.”
LUNA Fête was inspired by an annual holiday festival that takes place in Lyon, France, Fête des Lumières. For the Lyon event, which attracts millions of visitors each year, significant structures in the city are illuminated by a new type of video mapping technology, also known as monumental projection.
French explained that this technology allows an artist to create a three-dimensional map of a building, which is then digitized.
The computer will use the outside of the building as a screen and project an image that will adjust to the structure’s curves and contours.
This forms an optical illusion that makes it seem as if the building itself is moving.
LUNA Fête 2014 is the first of a five-year initiative intended to culminate in New Orleans’ 2018 tricentennial. The Arts Council plans to expand its international partnerships with video mapping practitioners, set up additional installations throughout the city, and accumulate a large audience of locals and visitors alike.
“We think there is potential — given what happens in Lyon, France, and the millions of visitors that go there every year — that we can replicate the same thing here,” said French, a lifelong resident of New Orleans.
He hopes that locals will see LUNA Fête as “another reason to love living in New Orleans,” along with a new way for tourists to enjoy their visit.
Additional Arts Council events will take place during the week.
LUNA Fête events begin on Saturday in Palmer Park, with the largest annual arts market of the year, and include a film screening, a tour of the Fat City murals and a flamenco dancing exhibition.
“(LUNA Fête) will expand our current holiday offerings and do it in a way that will be great for our city, for the long term,” French said.
“It would be a big win if we could pull all of this off and make it a major event every year going forward. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.”