Lusio Lights combines light and electronic music to create a "family-friendly festival of light and sound."
On a cold Saturday night in January, the Volunteer Park Conservatory filled with people and glowed like a spaceship, pulsating with different colors.
Light artists and electronic music filled the lush humidity of the conservatory with beams streaming through the leaves and shapes of the plants underneath the glass.
Lusio Lights, organized and curated by Mollie Bryan, was in full swing. Bryan is the owner and curator of Mokedo, a creative event space for light art and electronic music in the Sodo neighborhood of Seattle. She describes Lusio as the “external voice” of Mokedo.
“The inspiration behind Lusio was to create this special, one night only, free, family-friendly festival of light and sound with a focus primarily on light and make it really playful and exploratory and set into nature,” said Bryan, 37.
The first Lusio event in 2016 was a success. Nearly 30 light artists installed artwork throughout Volunteer Park, lighting it up on a summer night for a couple of thousand attendees.
Since then, Bryan has continued to build on the momentum of Lusio with the opening of her own space, Mokedo; Lush Sounds, an electronic-music series in the park; and Lusio Lights in the Conservatory, which functions as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Conservatory (over $25,000 has been raised to date).
Bryan’s expertise in events comes from her time spent helping with Decibel Festival and the Fremont Art Walk.
Seattle artists Alexander Miller and Alexander Nagy create interactive, generative light art using projection mapping under the moniker Spacefiller. They appreciate Bryan’s ability to make events that “people want to go to,” as Miller said.
“Cause I’ve been to a lot of crappy art events,” he added, laughing.
“It’s a huge opportunity for artists like us, who are new to the scene and are not super established. It basically gave us a chance to gain a lot of credibility, because we could have a venue where we could prove ourselves.”
As Spacefiller, Miller and Nagy use science and math to create experiential pieces of light art that are deceptively complex.
They use algorithms based on simulations of natural systems, like birds flocking, or topographic terrain, to generate the graphics used in their pieces, which are projected onto uneven spaces based on their shape — a technique called projection mapping. Viewers are encouraged to interact, or disrupt the algorithms using simple controllers.
At the January Lusio Lights event, projection-mapped cacti came alive as people lined up around the perimeter of the Cactus House to get their turn to change the effect with a glowing pink controller.
“I think light art and kind of the surrounding medium is kind of a good bridge between artists and physical mediums and technology,” said Nagy.
“I see that as a divide in Seattle, where it’s like oh, the ‘tech bros’ are taking over, and everyone’s sort of pitted against each other,” he said. “Finding ways to bridge and connect people through different mediums is always positive.”
Bryan, who grew up in Darrington, Snohomish County, strives to make light art a more known form of art in Seattle, after seeing thriving scenes in cities like Montreal and San Francisco.
“I wanted to help people have that voice and give them an opportunity to show their work — that’s not a gallery, or Burning Man, or a rock show, or someplace where people have to seek it out — someplace natural, and beautiful and exploratory like Volunteer Park.”
The next Lusio Lights is Saturday, March 3, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Another one is planned for April 7. All ages are welcome. For more information, check out lusiolight.com