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Culture

Pools Of Light and 'Global Rainbows' Illuminate Downtown Festival

The AHA! Festival Of Progressive Arts brought swirling lights and vibrant projections to downtown Cleveland last week.

by Matthew James Clarke
14 August 2014, 9:45pm

Photos by Frank Lanza via

Things seem to be turning up for Clevelend: Lebron's back in town, the downtown area is receiving a steady stream of investments in its health, cultural, and tourism industries, and the growing residential population is transforming the midwestern metropolis into a bona fide boomtown. The cherry on top of these recent developments was the AHA! Festival of Progressive Arts, curated by a local team of curators and urban planners at LAND studio. From August 7th to 9th, the multi-day event illuminated both the new and old attractions of downtown Cleveland. The artists Jen Lewin, Yvette Mattern, Ivan Juarez and design studio Obscura Digital all utilized light and projections to attract Cleveland’s community into the downtown area for the celebration. For Jen Lewin’s installation The Pool, the audience hung out and jumped on the sculture itself, making it a literal physical attraction. She described the piece as an ethos-minded project:

“By entering the pool, you enter a world where community play and collaborative movement create swirling effects of light and color. Imagine a giant canvas where you can paint and splash light collaboratively. “

The Pool

On the more conceptual end, Ivan Juarez’s architectural sculptures filtered light in the Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden. According to LAND studio, “His aim is to produce an installation through which garden-users may reflect on their relationship with the surrounding city.”

Installed at the Great Lakes Science Center and shining into the Cleveland night sky was Global Rainbow (above), a static laser devised by Yvette Mattern which was viewable from up to 35 miles away. We're convinced that this part of the festival may have called some aliens into the space. Or perhaps the aliens were already there:


Obscura Digital, a San Francisco alliance of artists and technologists responsible for transforming Pier 15’s historic façade into a portal of natural phenomena, aimed their luminous eyes onto yet another historic landmark in Ohio. Transformations took place on Cleveland’s Public Auditorium and animated it with 370-foot wide imagery of natural and man-made ephemera.

Held alongside the installations were events such as a massive yoga class, an illuminated bike night ride, and other creative events. Make sure to check out the documentation of the event, the artists Jen LewinYvette MatternIvan Juarez, and Obscura Digitalas well as the curators from LAND studio.

Meanwhile, Cleveland…we're keeping our eyes on you.

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