Every three years for just one night, Glow Santa Monica, an art installation based on the theme of light, is installed at Santa Monica Beach and Pier. This year was my first time in attending. Having only seen images here and there, I never knew fully what the audience participatory exhibit would be like. I imagined it to be more than it was–more artwork, more light, more glowing displays that would astound the mind. Fifteen exhibits were listed in all, but some were passing events that occurred only once, and others, such as a treasure hunt for coins throughout the Glow area, to me, was not art, it was a treasure hunt.
Glow did have some unique, and large, installations, such as the ring of fire that I expected to see Evel Knievel ride through at any moment. Named “6:43PM” by artist Mathieu Briand, visitors stood in line to go through a tunnel made of steel containers on which the fire ring sat upon. The line was much too long, so I didn’t get to experience it, but, according to the event brochure description, it was a “chamber of mystery from a past or future time.” “6:43PM” “salutes the power of the sun,” and was named for the descent of the sun below the horizon at that time.
Other so-called “exhibits” were existing structures on the pier, the carousel and the solar-powered Ferris wheel (maybe the city was trying to save money). The carousel was fun to ride at 2 in the morning. I’ve never seen a carousel filled solely with adults. The music, one clip representing each decade throughout the 20th century, filled the room and energized the experience.
There was one exhibit that did impress many. To me it made it worth dealing with the traffic and parking to get to Glo. It drew a steady stream from the thousands of people who came to Santa Monica to see Glo. “The Space Between Us” by artist Janet Echelman looked like a huge, billowing sea net hung from the sky, which constantly changed colors, sometimes slowly morphing from one to another hue, and other times lighting up suddenly in a bright white or blue. When it went dark, occasionally little lights would run up and down the strings of the net, like stars, or glowing sea life, on the move. A shooting comet at one point caused the audience to ooh and ahhh. While it seemed there was a caution tape barrier around the entire structure, it was trampled down as the masses of people streamed toward the sculpture and climbed up the small hill and down into a bowl sculpted out of the sand below the artwork. Here bodies lined the bowl, gazing up at the billowing net above them. The piece was set to music the artist composed, which listened to later on her Website, echelman.com, sounds like water in variations states, included being flushed down a toilet. I overheard a couple asking, “Where’s the music.” While cliché, that would have made the experience truly fine. Here is a video below set to music by Pink Floyd.