We at Popular Kinetics love a light show, and British artist and lighting designer Bruce Munro has fabricated several impressive installations at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Visiting the gardens on Friday night, we experienced the magic of his fiber optic artworks on our nocturnal garden walk. Forest of Light is a piece featuring 20,000 glass globes on knee-high stems, each with a fiber optic filament wrapped gently inside the clear glass. Strands of filament run along the ground from the base of each stem, gathered into spaghetti-like bundles and ending at a light source punctuated by changing colors. Walking amongst the trees and the vast network of moving and glowing hues was delightful. But it was the vast expanse of the project and an appreciation of the labor involved that pushed this from a mere novelty to a more grandiose form of expression.
Munro’s Water Towers was our favorite of the eight installations. Sitting in an open meadow were 69 towers of 252 water-filled bottles, each with a fiber-optic filament threaded through its cap. Again, the towers were constantly shifting color, and an etherial sound track accentuated the other-worldly feeling of the piece.
The one piece meant to be viewed by day was also striking: Waterlilies suggested large, floating leaves of the Victorian lily with Munro’s use of a flotilla of repurposed CDs hovering on the surface of a large pond. Sunlight danced on the reflective surfaces, creating a completely different lighting effect here.
Unfortunately, we just learned about the exhibition at its close, so it is no longer possible to see it at Longwood. But with the success of this show, hopefully more of Munro’s pieces will be making an appearance in the U.S. soon.