International Light Artist Christien Methot enabled Parisians to see their beloved Seine River in a new light when he created the world’s first Light:Bridge with Ayrton Cobra phosphor laser source luminaires. ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton lighting in North America.
For one magical July night, Methot, the Principal Lighting Designer at New York City-based Design One Lighting Design, added a new bridge across the fabled Seine using 10 powerful parallel beams of light to project a ‘bridge’ across the water near the Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor footbridge, which links the Left Bank’s Musee d’Orsay with the Right Bank’s Jardin des Tuileries. From far away the light beams appeared to be a sturdy, physical crossing. But as people approached it, the ethereal nature of a bridge built of light was revealed. Only light could achieve that dichotomy linking the two sides of the river with elegance and grace.
“Art that’s larger than a gallery, a river that seems as if it has no bounds, large-scale public art based on light – these ideas have been percolating in my brain for years,” says Methot. “Until now the technology wasn’t there, but with Ayrton’s Cobra laser phosphor fixture [the possibilities] are outrageous. I saw Cobras at ACT Entertainment and got super excited about them. They need no haze to be seen for miles.”
Cobra is Ayrton’s next generation, speckle-free laser source that pushes all the limits when it comes to beam definition, with native contrast never before achieved by a digital light source. It is the only luminaire on the market capable of illuminating an object several kilometers away. Cobra also has full waterproofing plus sun and cold safeguards for smooth operation in the most extreme conditions.
Design One’s full-time employee in Paris, Tom Simpson, managed the Light:Bridge installation’s set up, choosing the right spot on the Seine after the city of Paris offered advice on the best location. 109 Productions helped with the permit process.
As sunset fell, the crisp white beams of Light:Bridge came to life dazzling locals and tourists alike. Although Methot aimed the lights from one side of the Seine to the other at a height designed not to interfere with passing double-decker tour boats, cruisers still jumped excitedly to see if they could touch the beams above their heads. Joggers stopped to post photos and lovers along the riverbank delighted in the beautiful streams of light.
“I purposely did not have the Cobras move, undulate or change color,” says Methot. “The installation was all about the viewer’s experience with it and the city.”
He notes that once the lights were turned on, “the Cobras did exactly what they were supposed to do. No adjustments were necessary; everything matched perfectly – we were meticulous about getting the distances right. While Cobra is built with a robust and impressive feature set, all I needed was the brightest, crispest beam of light. The Seine is such a beautiful setting.”
Methot says he got “great” support from ACT and that “Ayrton was amazing at getting us what we needed and hooking us up with the right companies.”
Light:Bridge served as a proof of concept which can be commissioned and brought to life again on an even larger scale “as part of an urban landscape, an emblematic public art piece or a visual cornerstone for large events, such as the Olympic Games,” Methot explains.
With more than 30 years experience designing lighting in the entertainment and architectural worlds, Methot reflects on light’s emotional power. “In a world where divisions seem to grow, I believe light can bring us together and remind us of our shared humanity. Light:Bridge is an invitation to explore the boundless possibilities that lie ahead when we embrace unity and creativity. On a daily basis, light takes on a utilitarian role. But when we allow it to transport us, the experience deepens.”