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Dublin celebrates EU enlargement with made-to-order light sculptures

To mark the addition of ten new countries to the European Union on 1st May 2004, a unique form of art has been brought to the city of Dublin. Anyone can create their own light sculpture by logging on to a website, and their design will be projected over the centre of Dublin.

The website will have a 3D virtual model of the city where participants can make a light design using 22 robotic searchlights placed around O’Connell Street. As submissions arrive from the Internet, every fifteen seconds a new pattern will be displayed in the sky. With 154,000 watts of power, the beams of light will be visible from a distance of 15 kilometres. Participants’ names and dedications will be shown on a large screen in the street and on personal web pages that will be made automatically for each design. The website will also present a live broadcast from four video cameras placed around the city centre so that remote viewers can see the current state of the installation.

"Vectorial Elevation" is the work of the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, who is assisted by a dozen programmers, designers and technicians from five countries. Lozano-Hemmer’s speciality, which he calls "relational architecture", aims to transform urban spaces with interactive technologies that allow the public to form an integral part of the artwork. The project intends to fold the virtual space of the Internet with the real space of the city to create what he calls an "anti-monument": "if people don't participate and add their own input the project does not exist".

"Vectorial Elevation" was presented for the first time in the Zócalo Square in Mexico City, for the Millennium celebrations. More than 800,000 people from 89 countries visited the website (69% from Mexico), and millions saw the designs in the city. In spring of 2002, the project was installed in the Basque capital city of Vitoria, to coincide with the opening of the Basque Museum of Contemporary Art, Artium. For that edition, over 300,000 people from 65 countries (47% from Spain) visited the site. In the fall of 2003, the piece transformed the Place Bellecour in Lyon, for the Fête des Lumières and the UN's World Summit of Cities. In seven nights the project was visited by over 600,000 people (81% from France) with over 6.5 million web pages served. For Dublin it is expected that the website will reach over one million visitors.

"Vectorial Elevation" received the Golden Nica award in 2001, the oldest and most prestigious electronic art award in the world, given by the Ars Electronica festival and ORF TV in Austria. The project also received an SFMOMA Webby distinction in San Francisco, an Excellence Prize at the CG Arts Festival in Tokyo and a Trophée des Lumières in Lyon.

The piece will be in operation every night from April 22 to May 3, 2004 from dusk to dawn, and can be accessed at

The project is funded by the Government of Ireland Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism for the Ireland 2004 Presidency of the European Union.

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