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Hundreds of interactive paper boats by Aether & Hemera sail into Canary Wharf
The art installation, entitled Voyage, is a new work by Aether & Hemera. Photo: Philip Vile and Peter Matthews.

LONDON.- A flotilla of 300 illuminated floating ‘paper boats’, will sail into Canary Wharf’s Middle Dock. Commissioned for Canary Wharf Group’s award-winning public art programme, the beautiful boats will be lit from within by ever-changing patterns of different colours, altered from the mobile phones of passers-by.

The art installation, entitled Voyage, is a new work by Aether & Hemera: an artistic partnership between architect Claudio Benghi and lighting artist Gloria Ronchi and form a spectacular light show in the middle of the famous business and shopping district’s iconic skyscrapers. Every year Canary Wharf Group’s public art team curates a Winter Lights installation to enliven the dark evenings, as part of the year round programme of temporary and permanent visual arts.

Voyage has been in placed until 15 February, with the lights coming on before dusk until 2am. The artists aim to use the work to provoke memories, explore aesthetic interaction, evoke memories of childhood and elicit feelings of connective human experiences from their audience.

Sally Williams, Public Art Consultant at Canary Wharf Group, says: “Aether & Hemera are inviting passers-by on a journey from reality to imagination. In Voyage they have created an interactive experience in which people living, working and visiting Canary Wharf can use their mobile phones to influence the movement and behaviour of the lights within the boats.”

‘Voyage’ marks the beginning of the 2013 Sculpture at Work exhibition programme at Canary Wharf, which will include shows from Nick Hornby and Sinta Tantra, Eilis O’Connell, Halima Cassell and The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art.

People passing close to the boats will be able to interact with the artwork to change colours and patterns. This can be done by connecting mobile devices to the Voyage Wi-Fi network, opening the web browser, going to and following the instructions.

Aether and Hemera is a partnership of architect Claudio Benghi and lighting artist Gloria Ronchi. Their company name comes from the ancient Greek god and goddess of brighter upper air and daylight. Aether is Claudio Benghi, the media architect; Hemera is Gloria Ronchi, the lighting artist. Together they formed an interdisciplinary collaboration to research the aesthetic challenges of light and its power to trigger emotions and response, creating a sense of identity or setting a mood. Their approach focuses on researching the sensory engagement power of an immaterial force like light and how collaborative participatory arts and design methods can influences our way of living in a variety of contexts, from interiors to urban spaces.
Gloria graduated at Politecnico di Milano and later obtained a Master degree in Lighting Design at Brera’s Fine Art Academy in Milan. In 2008 she moved to England and obtained a Fellowship from the Institute of Digital Innovation, University of Teesside, for the design and creation of ‘Mood Chair’, a piece of interactive furniture that responds to its environment and people in it. She is a professional artist interested in combining light, digital technology and physical space to produce immersive and emotional headspaces. Claudio trained as an architect at Politecnico di Milano, where he later became course coordinator and Lecturer of the course: “Communication design”, from 2000 to 2005. In 2007 he obtained his PhD, specializing in media architecture. He is now Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne. His aim is to explore emerging practices in cross-disciplinary fields to merge digital technologies & virtual spaces with tangible and physical spatial experiences.

Works by Aether & Hemera have been shown across the UK and in Italy since 2006. Recent exhibitions include: DLI Museum/Durham Art Gallery, 2011; Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2010; Queen’s Hall Art Centre, Hexham, 2010; MART 09 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2009; Cannon Hall Museum in Barnsley, 2009; Lampugnani’s Castle, Subiate, Milan, Italy, 2006.

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