"Light festivals have been around for centuries"

Artificial volcanoes, feathery fountains of light and electric currents that mimic lightning. Light festivals have existed for centuries and even managed to spread scientific knowledge. From 10 to 14 November, researchers from B-magic (UAntwerp) and Mystery Lab vzw organised a course of optical illusions in the House of Mysteries. Finally, we got a glimpse of how centuries-old light technologies deceive and astonish us.

The 'Lichtsporen' route had been specially set up for Lichtfestival Gent 2021. It was aimed at a broad public, including families and children. You could walk past works of art, installations, performances, and optical illusions from the past and present. The initiators wanted to let a broad audience rediscover the magic and technology of light.

Head of the B-magic research project Kurt Vanhoutte speaks of a unique collaboration: "In the past, the interaction between scientists and illusionists was a matter of course. From the end of the eighteenth century, for example, scientists used optical instruments to dissect and demonstrate the properties of light. Some demonstrations were so spectacular that they found their way onto popular stages. Since the 20th century, this cooperation between science and the world of magic has unfortunately faded. But at this light festival, we let history repeat itself: illusionists and scientists are working together again."

The experience theatre House of Mysteries was the ideal place to host this event. There, you are immersed in a mysterious world on the border of illusion and reality. And Mystery Lab, a think tank for wonder, illusion and magic, completed this cooperation. Nikolaas Martens of Mystery Lab says: "We strive to bring the heritage of magicians and illusionists back into the light of day. What makes this project so remarkable, is that the public gets to know centuries-old light and projection techniques in an interactive and fascinating way."

Find out more:

Interview with Kurt Vanhoutte on Radio 1

Interview with Kurt Vanhoutte on Radio 2 and article on the webpage of the VRT-site

Interview with Evelien Jonckheere (UAntwerp) by Gent in Beeld

Article in HLN

​Read all about the full programme of the exhibition here.

LICHTSPOREN was an initiative of Mystery Lab vzw and the B-magic team of UAntwerp. With the support of the University of Antwerp and the City of Ghent. In collaboration with Fyxxi and Ditmar Bollaert.

Logo's lichtsporen.png