Aurora Dallas has had an international pedigree since its inception in 2010. It began as Nuit Blanche (“White Night”) in Paris and subsequently moved on to Toronto. For the uninitiated, it deploys high-tech gadgets to project mind-numbing and extravagant art projects upon downtown facades. And the result is breathtaking.
Dallas artists Shane Pennington and Joshua King can take credit for creating the North Texas iteration of White Night with a modest beginning that Pennington told me about in an interview some years back. He described it this way: “The first event was put on for $250 and we did it at Old City Park. Josh and I put it together and we used the buildings there, including the old potting shed. We had a good turnout of about 1,500 people and then we met with Veletta Lill, who helped us move it into the Arts District. This was a huge move.” Lill was thoroughly enthusiastic and exclaimed, “Who doesn’t love light?” She has a point. And to prove it, each year the event has evolved and continues to attract increasingly huge crowds. This year will be no exception, and there are few events that come close to Aurora in terms of sheer scale, ambition and unbridled inventiveness. In fact, scratch that. Nothing comes close.
This year, the city’s fourth Aurora event will be held on Friday, October 16, beginning at 7 pm and continuing until 2 am; it features 80 artists with international and local reputations — and all their work is professionally curated and will be shown in one of six sections in the District. Aurora, sometimes described as a Soul Drug, is a shared event that evokes awe in much the way that eclipses or meteor showers do — in fact, the Aurora Borealis is a thoroughly apt analogy. Plus, a remarkably diverse group of organizations are coming together to create a spectacular, free, citywide event. Thus, everyone from the Nasher Sculpture Center to the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe is contributing to the event and it’s slated to have more than a few heart-stopping moments. Here’s a quick list:
- Memo Atken’s “Simple Harmonic Motion” features the use of mathematical principles and algorithms to create sound and light that will be projected over One Arts Plaza.
- Andreas Greiner’s “Toccata for pyrocystis fusiformis” utilizes clear containers of algae that react to music by emitting fluctuating blue light.
- Veronika Georgieva and Stephan Shanabrook’s “Memory Lane” will display photos from the lives of North Texans throughout the 20th century and project them on to Harwood Street.
- 3_Search’s “Sense/Coalescence” will project images onto the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre; the images will respond to a live vocal performance.
- Niko Princen’s “In the Event of Fire” will allow participants in Dallas to blow into a microphone that will blow out a candle in Amsterdam.
The event is extravagant, sophisticated and like nothing else you’ll witness in North Texas. Aurora is a form of marvelous magic and it’s an event that demonstrates what can happen when people come together to make art without a monetary agenda at the forefront of the enterprise. It’s lovely; it’s spectacular — and your best bet for finding what you need to plan your evening is to click here and explore what will take over the Dallas Arts District for one brilliant, astonishing evening.
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t relish a communal experience that’s free for everyone, VIP tickets are also available for about $50. Again, consult the website and opt for what thrills you most. Personally, I enjoy meandering on the streets and people-watching. Think of it as a contemporary version of Plato’s Cave, only with electricity and vivid colors.