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65,000 CDs Create Memorial Disco Lilypads

Bruce Munro’s installation uses discarded CDs to capture sunlight.

You know that old Viking thing about putting their fallen Norsemen on a boat and sending them out to sea as their final resting place? Sure, that made sense for sea-bound conquerors like the vikings, but does it necessarily translate to retiring outdated technology? Bruce Munro’s Water Lilies, part of his solo show Light at Longwood Gardens, nets together 65,000 discarded CD’s into metallic lilypads and sends them out to their own viking burial on the water.


It turns out I’m not far off—although the catalyst for the exhibit is Longwoods Gardens’ indigenous “Victoria Lilies,” Munro also claimed to take inspiration from C.S. Lewis’s book Voyage of the Dawn Treader, whose titular ship is modeled on viking ships of yore, with a mast modeled after a dragon’s head. Munro was inspired by a passage about a field of white water lilies that signified the border between two worlds. But enough about fantasy novels.

Munro’s sprawling exhibit is located in Longwood’s largest lake and features 100 of the six-foot long lily pads. The CDs are mounted on foam discs and then netted together. Although most of Munro’s artwork involves LED lighting, “Water Lilies” uses the natural light to create its spectacle. Each pad refracts sunlight to reflect the colors of the surrounding gardens, changing shades as the sun changes position. Depending on what time a lily pad is viewed, it could be silver, pink, blue, or green. The nature-focused installation is also eco-friendly, as Munro plans to recycle the discs after the exhibition has been retired. So I guess being recycled is life after death?

Images Courtesy of Longwood Gardens and Mark Pickthall.