© Alan McAteer
  © Alan McAteer
 © Amano Studio
  © Amano Studio
 
 © Ross Aitken
  © Ross Aitken
 © Alan McAteer
  © Alan McAteer

Overview

NVA’s Speed of Light is based on the interaction of movement, light and sound over specific terrain. As a public art performance – and through the stunning photography and film it inspires – we can look again at familiar perspectives of a city or rural setting and appreciate where we live.

“A procession of people, forsaking dreams of athletic heroism, committed instead to choreographed, communal movement. The combined effect of this kinetic energy is sensational; runners lending their honest toil to create a strange new geometry across the cityscape.”

Starting as NVA’s response to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Speed of Light fulfilled a desire to elevate non-elite distance and endurance running to the realms of the extraordinary. It premiered on Arthur’s Seat as part of the Edinburgh International Festival with 4,000 hill runners taking part over 21 nights.

Three years ago NVA set out to discover if runners could ‘harvest’ their own energy through self-generating dynamo systems as well as carry their own power to illuminate their passage. We designed flickering light sources that could be powered by hand movement alone. These were incorporated into bespoke LED light suits containing portable battery packs and remote wireless technologies.

The 120 suits worn by runners are individually controlled from a central system which can instantaneously change colour, flash-rate and luminosity, producing the stunning light patterns made by the choreographed actions of massed runners. Movement is seen as fundamental to how we order our perception of space, thus the rhythm of movement becomes a source of creativity in itself extending our understanding of the world.

For a watching audience Speed of Light can be seen as a piece of abstract art, operating at the grandest scale, where the physical surroundings become an open canvas carrying a new visual language, expressing mood and movement, comprised of form, colour and line. It is also a monumental public artwork equally at home on a hillside or in the urban heart of a city, but one that is still surprisingly quiet and reflective in its mood.

Collaborating with local choreographers and runners in each country it visits, Speed of Light is now travelling to new locations worldwide.

If you are interested in touring opportunities for Speed of Light, please visit our Touring page for more details and to get in touch.

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*quote from Hayden Lorimer, Speed of Light programme notes, Edinburgh International Festival 2012