From Glow with Love

reading time 10 minutes | by Renske Mehra

November 13 ––  2020

Last night Eindhoven suddenly lit up. It was a surprise from GLOW, which had to cancel its regular light festival due to covid-19. The light artworks are a signal of hope to the people of Eindhoven. And to everyone around the globe who struggles in these strange times. We talked with light artist Ivo Schoofs who decorated the city with a thousand red balloons.

In his workshop on the Campina grounds Ivo Schoofs is filling the last balloons with helium. GLOW fans probably know his work from previous editions. Last year, for example, there was the mouse cursor near DomusDela, which hung from a balloon at a height of fifty meters. This year, more balloons will be involved: a thousand red balloons in total, spread all over the city. Connecting the Dots is the name of the project.

It's March 2020 when the GLOW team realizes that attracting 700,000 visitors to the city this year, is a scenario that is very unlikely to happen. Together with the city council, artists and various Eindhoven-based companies that support GLOW, the organization devises a different plan. No festival, but a gift to the city. A signal of hope and comfort.

Ivo's work is one of the three parts of this special GLOW edition. Kari Kola, the Finnish light artist who illuminated the sky blue from the Pullman Hotel two years ago, also participates in a further developed version of his earlier work. Whereas in 2018 Kari used less than a hundred lamps for his work of art, this year 1500 leds will lit the sky above Eindhoven. The third project is by Hugo Vrijdag. He also participated in GLOW before, and is known in Eindhoven for the Ontdekfabriek at Strijp-S. The DOTS that he developed are a kit to build your own light artwork. Initially meant for primary school students in Eindhoven, but because the idea landed so well and there were more and more requests, including from day care for the elderly and nursing homes, packages have also been sent in that direction.

The three works are designed in such a way that no one needs to visit the city centre to enjoy GLOW. Balloons hang in every district of Eindhoven, and Kari Kola's light artwork can be seen from every garden, window or balcony in Eindhoven - even up to 60 kilometers outside the city. About Connecting the Dots Ivo says: "Red is the color that is perceived first, the color with the lowest frequency. That's why you’re attracted to the color.”

"Red is the color with the lowest frequency. That's why you’re attracted to it”

In all projects the reuse of materials has been considered. After the project, the Eindhoven University of Technology, will recuperate the helium from the red dots. A special machine can extract the helium and return it to a liquid form so that the helium can be reused. The latex balloons are one hundred percent biodegradable. These will all go to the Eindhoven artist Jalila Essaïdi, who will process them to use them as raw material for a new work of art.

The LED's in the balloons were developed by Ivo himself. By working in such a way that the entire surface of the balloon is illuminated from the inside, the red dots can be seen from a great distance. The balloons come in three different sizes. The largest version gets so hot that a heat dissipation mechanism needs to be placed inside the balloon. After weeks of welding, the balloons have been hung all over the city in the past few days.

It's all about trying, testing and experimenting. It’s a way of working that makes Ivo Schoofs a beloved light artist in the Netherlands and abroad. Last January he decided to move his workspace to the Campina grounds, not much later the world changed completely. "Connecting the Dots is a positive boost for all Eindhoven residents, and for everyone who sees it anywhere in the world.”

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