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Aurora Lights Up The Arts District Tonight

by Jerome Weeks 18 Oct 2013 5:35 AM

Aurora is back, filling the Arts District tonight with nearly 90 video artists, digital images, performers and musicians. The essence of the artists-night-out is what the French call son et lumiere, sound-and-light shows — big, bright projections.


blueA projection from Blue by Dithernoise. Image outfront from Dithernoise in Rome 2012

Dallas’ Arts District will flicker and shine even brighter than usual tonight. The Aurora Festival is filling the district for the third year. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports art works involving lights, computer images, video projections and performances will take over the buildings, both inside and out.

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In France, they’re called son et lumiere shows – sound and light shows – and a whole evening of them is a nuit blanche, a white night. They’re more common in Europe than in America — synthesizer wiz Jean-Michael Jarre has been doing them for more than 30 years (he did one in Houston in 1986).

So it’s not surprising that for its third installment, Aurora 2013 has brought in several Europeans. The vast majority of the nearly 90 participating musicians, dancers, photographers and installation artists are from North Texas. But a pair of Hungarians, for instance, are on the team that’ll project images on the side of the Wyly Theatre (video below). They make it look as though it’s being dismantled. There’s also a Norwegian video artist and a British computer installation specialist who deals with ordinary objects, like umbrellas.

But boil down Aurora to its essence, and it might be Simon Longo (below) and the 10-foot-tall white cube that’s been put up outside the Dallas Museum of Art. Longo is an Italian audio-visual artist based in London who performs under the name Dithernoise.

longo1“I will make a projection on the cube,” he says. “And I have a database of sound clip, images, video clip and I mix and match on the spot.”

Each Dithernoise performance is unique, improvised both visually and musically. Longo’s sounds vary from spacey whooshes and bird calls to electronic throbs. He is interested in ‘pattern interference.’ And he especially enjoys recording the soundscape of an entire city, its low-frequency emissions: “Like going on a hill overlooking a city and taking the measurement there.”

So each city sounds differently? he’s asked.

“They all sound very different.”

Dallas? It’ll probably be sounding very different tonight.