ROME'S BOTANIC GARDEN
Enchantment of lights
Photos and text by Cristina Archinto
Since dawn of time, light has always fascinated man because it represents the supreme power to light darkness. First, of course, it was fire that illuminated and defended man, then Edison brought light into homes with mass production of lamps and electricity, although he was not the actual inventor.
Today we have somewhat lost the ability to 'see in the dark' and in the absence of daylight we are used to have everything illuminated, but despite this we continue to be attracted by its power and light sources manage to excite like few things in the world.
By activating special cognitive abilities, light excites, impresses and generally creates well-being, perhaps also linked to that hidden primordial memory, and brings us to a sense of harmony with our surroundings. Moreover, if a light source, perhaps coloured, is also associated with a sound flow, such as a piece of music, an almost tactile sensation is evoked by 'feeling' the light.
This is more or less what happens at the sensory art exhibition at the Botanical Garden of Rome Incanto di luci (Enchantment of light). A one and a half kilometre long light art path conceived by light designer Andreas Boehlke, with evocative music by composer and sound designer Burkhard Fincke; works that tell in an artistic way some corners of this wonderful place. The installations, with LED bulbs for minimal environmental impact, bring us a completely different botanical garden, we can really say in a different light. Trees and plants in sumptuous colours, meadows full of flashing lights or balls that light up in a thousand different shades of colours, stairways carpeted with fireflies or luminous silhouettes of reindeer grazing among the bushes, and more.
Certainly for nature or the garden lovers itself everything gives a strange effect, seeing blue palms and green fountains or lawns covered in red lights is extravagant, but it must be said, in certain cases, these artistic works can also amplify certain flavours, as in the bamboo forest, where moving green rays 'cut' clean through, like samurai warrior blades, those marvellous trunks. In other cases, perhaps the enchantment is unnatural, such as the lotus blossoms lying on the pond in the Japanese Garden being unappreciative, but on the other hand the coloured lights all around make the beautiful maples stand out. Some luminescent works mainly enchant children like the tree fairies or Tinker Bell's wings, but in general one breathes mostly enthusiasm and amazement, and the amount of mobile phones one sees swirling in the air ready to spread this into the ether is proof of this.
I must admit that I, too, had a lot of fun photographing a place that in theory I knew very well but which was completely turned upside down. Lights appearing and disappearing, changing colours, trees taking different shapes because they were perhaps lit from below and not from above, stimulated my creativity a lot.
Of course, for what we can define as 'the culture of greenery and nature', I am not sure that all this will have a positive impact, but certainly the very high turnout gives hope that perhaps even some of them will remember this magical place next spring and return to enjoy it in its most natural aspect.