A wealth of knowledge lies cloistered inside the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s marble walls. But for the next three nights, some of Yale’s most novel ideas will be brought to the library’s surface.
This weekend, the Beinecke’s façade will be the canvas for “Lux: Ideas Through Light,” a projection exhibition that showcases ideas and innovations at Yale through the collaboration of artists and researchers from a variety of disciplines. The exhibition is the result of months of preparation by a team of student curators and producers, who worked alongside faculty and staff collaborators, researchers and designers.
“When we say ‘ideas through light,’ we mean that we’re showing you ideas that will stay with you, even when the lights themselves have faded to black,” said Laurel Lehman ’17, one of Lux’s producers.
A team of five undergraduates — producers Lehman and Emily Bosisio ’16, and curators Eli Block ’16, Asher Young ’17 and Doug Streat ’16 — spearheaded the project after many of them collaborated on a production team for last year’s Spring Fling.
Since then, the group has gone through various measures to clear the project, proposing it to Associate Dean for the Arts Susan Cahan and Yale Secretary and Vice President Kimberly Goff-Crews and meeting with representatives from the Beinecke and Yale’s Office of Risk Management.
Young noted such milestones as a trial run of the event’s projection technology before Cahan, Beinecke Director E.C. Schroeder and other administrators and an approved request for funding from Yale’s Arts Discretionary Fund in January. Lehman said that the list of participating artists was finalized in February and that final design submissions were due at the end of March.
The team relied on the Digital Media Center for the Arts and Yale School of Drama for staff and faculty support, as well as exhibition curators to help map out projection designs onto a virtual mockup of the Beinecke’s surface, Young said, adding that it has rented six high-powered projectors for the project.
Erich Bolton, a theater studies lecturer and projection supervisor at the Yale School of Drama who worked on Lux, said the first major step of the project was developing a thorough understanding of the building. As a result, the team took hundreds of photographs to develop a 3D model of the Beinecke’s exterior.
Bosisio emphasized the importance of advanced projection and design technology to the exhibition, adding that the projections will also be digitally recorded and archived.
“This is ground that has not been trudged before,” Bosisio said. “There’s not really been a ‘set path’ for us to follow.”
The organizers also highlighted the variety of collaborative ventures across campus that will be displayed in the exhibition.
Andy Sternad ARC ’16 and John Kleinschmidt ARC ’16 created “These Birds are Forever,” which consists of selected images of specimens from the Peabody Museum of Natural History’s ornithology collection. Following a desire to explore fields outside of their own, Sternad and Kleinschmidt said they were inspired by Peabody Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Richard Prum’s work at the museum to create this display for Lux. Producers and curators said that such interdisciplinary collaborations between students, technical specialists, researchers and artists are what inspired them to organize the exhibition.
“These students came up with an idea that was so exciting that it compelled others to make it a priority in their own lives,” Cahan said in an email. “That’s what happened with the artists and their collaborators; that’s what happened with the director of the Beinecke; and that’s what happened with me.”
Lehman noted that the Beinecke’s central location on campus and its role as a hub of intellectual study make it an ideal space for Lux, which aims to bring together different disciplines at Yale.
“It’s a terrific celebration of this iconic building in the lead-up to its closing next month,” said Public Relations Manager for the Beinecke Mike Cummings.
The exhibition comes one month before the Beinecke is set to close for a 16-month-long renovation.