In all my crisscrossing of campus, it had never really occurred to me to sit down in front of the Beinecke and stare at its marble tiles for two hours. Yet this past Sunday night, accompanied by a crowd of onlookers, I found myself doing just that.
What had brought us there? “Lux: Ideas through Light,” a series of towering images and graphics projected onto the facade of the Beinecke and symbolizing Yale’s history and research. As the night wore on, luminescent DNA helixes gave way to an explosion of multicolored dots and a tour of the galaxy. Between each segment was a minute-long sequence in which each of the Beinecke’s tiles displayed a different idyllic image of campus: a true celebration of Yale.
And according to those involved, celebrating Yale was a primary intention. Five undergraduates organized the exhibition in conjunction with the Dean’s office: Emily Bosisio ’16 and Laurel Lehman ’17 produced it, while the gifted lighting designers Asher Young ’17, Doug Streat ’16 and Eli Block ’16 curated it. The exhibition was made up of short segments of no more than four minutes, designed by students from across the University who worked with researchers to graphically represent elements of the researchers’s work.
I wish I had been able to see how these collaborations had happened, and for a long time, I wished I had been given a program. At an exhibition where the goal was to take advanced research and make it accessible to the masses, a little explanation was sometimes needed.
But Lux had anticipated as much. Digital programs synced to the live display were available on small screens throughout the plaza, informing viewers of who had designed the current projection and what it symbolized.
Even though I didn’t understand “the point” of each segment, Lux was nonetheless one of the most enjoyable evenings I have had at Yale. It was more than just an exhibition of talent. It was an experience.
Technically, Lux was flawless. I had seen nothing like it. There was one moment where the projection showed bouncing dots trapped inside each individual tile, and another where the squares of a huge Rubix cube perfectly aligned with the Beinecke’s marble squares. Coming from a theater background, I can tell you that getting light cues correct is difficult. Yet I doubt that the curators had the option of running tests until they got it right — projections on to Beinecke in the middle of the day would hardly go unnoticed. Ensuring that much accuracy without multiple rehearsals astounded me. But my experience was not limited to appreciating the incredible talent on display.
I was once told that art connects people. For a long time, though, this confused me, because art had always appeared to be a solitary experience. Yet Lux invited people to experience art together. Few people arrived at Lux alone, and if they did, they were bound to see someone they knew. Just as the creation of Lux demonstrated collaboration across different parts of the University, the audience was also a cross section of the Yale community.
When I stood up on Sunday night, having sat through the entire two-hour-long show, it saddened me to know that on Monday the projections would stop. But I knew that I had witnessed something truly special.
If you didn’t get the chance to stop by, I’m sorry, but you missed out. Instead of moping, though, you should join the large group of people asking Lux when they’ll be doing it again.