LUNA Fete, the annual festival of light displays combining technology and artistic inspiration, started in 2014 with a colorful spectacle of graphics projected on Gallier Hall. The program used projection mapping and motion graphics technology to cover the varied surfaces of the Greek Revival facade and its columns with sprouting vines, flames, a massive streetcar passing by, Carnival masks, swamp creatures and more.
By last year, the festival had expanded to include interactive art installations on Lafayette Street from Lafayette Square to Convention Center Boulevard. A whimsical installation titled “Dial-a-llama” invited passersby to use a payphone to talk to a llama bot while viewing a holographic image of a llama in a trailer. The llama’s movements and actions were affected by the tones of the call, and passersby also could text the llama. This year, llama creator Pam Vivien Keaton is back with a new installation featuring a sheep, a zebra and a tiger viewable on a screen behind a peepshow curtain. Keaton learned some of the technology she used in workshops offered by the Arts Council of New Orleans, which created the festival and has helped participating artists get commissioned work and participate in other art events.
“The essence of LUNA Fete is to showcase possibility,” says Lindsay Glatz, creative director for the Arts Council of New Orleans. “I feel like a magician or a genie. If an artist says, ‘I want to create a sheep that goes down a wormhole,’ I’m like, ‘Great. Let’s make that happen.'”
This year’s LUNA Fete features returning and new projection videos on Gallier Hall, two silent discos, laser displays, Keaton’s sheep wormhole, dance performances, a preview of a rock opera projection in Piazza d’Italia, interactive light and sound installations and peripheral events running Dec. 6-9.
There are two programs of projection videos, each anchored by a past video. The original video by French firm La Maison Production runs at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and is followed by videos with themes about the four seasons by four local artists. The film projection “Viva Nola” by Mexican design group AVA screens at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. and is followed by works by students from Young Artist Movement and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
There are installations in Lafayette Square and on Lafayette Street. The New Orleans Public Library sponsors one of the silent discos, which is augmented by lighted headsets, glow sticks and other props. Chicago’s Dark Moon Design presents “Drum Circle,” which features several pedestals topped with transparent domes, under which there are New Orleans scenes. Participants can slap the domes, like playing congas, to activate light effects. Baltimore artist Elissa Blount Moorhead presents her video project about vacant row houses in her hometown. The video depicts a family and ghostlike spirit children exploring a home both in a cutaway side view and in vignettes.
The Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave has created virtual Carnival “parades” of video projects and an immersive event at the Music Box Village inspired by the 1984 World’s Fair. It will preview four videos from its forthcoming rock opera “Oedipus Max,” a futuristic hero’s tale that will be presented in the Piazza d’Italia Feb. 22, 2019. At LUNA Fete, Vaporwave krewe members will assist spectators using video game controllers to interact with video projections covering many of the surfaces of the Piazza in a production combining analog video switches and new video capture technology.
The festival is free, but the LUNA Lounge in Lafayette Square offers a light installation, food, cocktails, lounge furniture and restrooms for $50 for adults and $10 for children. Also part of LUNA Fete is the “Sound Collage” exhibit with projection mapping, live music and an arts market at the New Orleans Jazz Museum 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 5-7.
This LUNA Fete, coinciding with New Orleans’ tricentennial, concludes the project’s original five-year plan. The Arts Council expects to continue LUNA Fete in 2019, but likely in a different form, Glatz says.