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Lyndsey Hubbard chats to Leni Schwendinger, who is hosting the Nightseeing program at the ARC Show.


This month’s ARC Show will see Leni Schwendinger host a seminar talk and a walk around Islington. Schwendinger is no stranger to the lighting arena, with more than 20 years of experience as a lighting designer and public artist under her belt.


Background


Her training began at the London Film Festival, where she started out as a film maker, which helped to develop the story telling part of her mind. When she returned to the US, she was unable to find work as a film director, and somehow got an interest going in lighting and began to find mentors in the theatre industry and television and learned by doing theatrical lighting.


‘I was doing paintings on The Fly the opera and creating animations, which I had learnt at the Biroid opera house in Germany – I had the good luck to work there. So melding theatre, Fly painting


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and fashion, it was kind of a moment of realisation of architectural lighting and working in the fashion show industry,’ explains Schwendinger.


‘One of our clients asked me to do their showrooms, so that’s when I veered over and started to do architectural lighting. Then I decided to bring the work outside. I wasn’t interested in working in a protected interior space, but more bringing light and art out into the streets. I did a large scale projection on the Manhattan Post Office and at the same tie I got an airport commission and a one mile tunnel, and that was the time I incorporated Light Projects in 1992. I’ve basically always been an entrepreneur in a sense and had my own business.’


What projects stand out for you during your career?


‘I think one of the projects that was really groundbreaking was the Dreaming in


Colour project at the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall performance hall and opera house in Seattle. That really in a way fulfilled all my dreams of creating light and colour in mid air. That one was pretty special. There is also the Coney Island parachute jump and the Triple Bridge Gateway, which took eight years to do, and it included a community survey to find out what people really wanted with these deralict bridges. That’s pretty unusual for lighting projects. That gave a lot of meaning to my idea that I was interested in the public involvement.’


In your eyes what makes a good lighting scheme?


‘I do a talk called “The artists approach to design” and in that talk I discuss some of the, let us say, differences between the artists and the designer. I think one of those differences is the willingness to take risks. Not all designers take risks, and not


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Profile:


Schwendinger Leni


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