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Santander's Plaza Porticada becomes a centre of science and art

Last weekend the celebration of the International Day of Light Santander 2020 took place, a cultural, scientific and artistic event promoted by the Instituto de Física de Cantabria (IFCA) with collaboration of the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología – Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación y el Ayuntamiento de Santander. 'Santander es Luz', a unique event in Spain, took place in the Plaza Porticada in Santander.

Institutions, science and organisation were committed to this cultural initiative that allowed many different sectors of society to participate in activities that demonstrate how science, technology, art and culture can help to achieve UNESCO's objectives: research, education, equality and peace.

October 15th, 2020

The International Day of Light covers all aspects that have to do with light in the most general sense, including art, culture or sustainable development. This year, coinciding with the official day on which it is commemorated, 16th May according to UNESCO, all the national events planned were cancelled due to the current health crisis. However, the actions that had been prepared in Santander by the Instituto de Física de Cantabria (IFCA, CSIC-UC) were only postponed. Together with artists, production and institutions, it was decided to go ahead and bet on the project, postponing it until last weekend. The event, developed under the innovative artistic technique of LightPainting, left no one indifferent. 

The scientific framework programmed by the IFCA together with the Grupo de Ingeniería Fotónica (TEISA) de la Universidad de Cantabria, included eight workshops for the most restless minds, who learned a little more about light, its composition and the technological tools that can be created thanks to it. Jónatan Piedra, IFCA's Deputy Director of Dissemination, explained the set-up of the workshops, which ranged from the first photograph of the Universe to the use of light to see if a food is edible. The audience was able to enjoy and learn, with confidence, about different scientific applications of light, listening to the researchers. 

"We are proud to have been able to celebrate the International Day of Light. We are happy because we saw how the public enjoyed and learned from the workshops, because there was applause, questions and a lot of curiosity. Proud because Santander was one of the few spanish cities that celebrated this date, because we worked doubly hard: on the one hand, preparing the science and the workshops, and on the other, taking care of all the details so that the event was safe," said Piedra.

'Santander es Luz' had a cast of international artists of light such as Sfhir, Frodo from Children Of DarkLight and Edu Cajigal. With the help of 15 lightpainters from all over Spain, the work resulted in an image of mother science created with light, crossing the surface of Santander's Plaza Porticada and throwing a ray of white light from its heart, which breaks down into a rainbow through a prism, as can be seen in the video below. The final result was a unique artistic-scientific work, the most ambitious created in Spain today. 

Due to all that the event entailed and the health measures imposed, it was necessary to define a detailed production to guarantee the safety of those attending. To create the final image, a single 15-minute photograph capturing the light, the public participation of 150 attendees was chosen by means of prior registration. Capacity was reached just 6 hours after the event was announced. Attendees were placed 1.5 metres away and approved black masks were handed out to reinforce the darkness that was needed. Surprise and expectation were the feelings of an audience that was able to learn more about the importance of light in our days.

The institutions wanted to take advantage of the occasion to send out a message of encouragement to all the residents of a city that is well prepared to organise safe events. "It was demonstrated that we are prepared and ready to continue carrying out cultural programming in a safe manner", said Miriam Díaz, Councillor for Tourism, Commerce, Markets and Institutional Relations in Ayuntamiento de Santander.

LightPainting can be defined as the art of being able to paint with light, through the photographic technique of long exposure. "Light for me is living", said Frodo, from Children Of DarkLight, artistic director of the project. The other hand of the artistic representation was provided by Sfhir, who is the leading representative of urban art in Europe, known for his contributions to urban art throughout the world. "We have exceeded all expectations in Santander, with a LightPainting animation never before created in Spain", commented Frodo at the end of the event.  

#DIL2020 on video: 

  • Joint Centre with the combined effort of Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and University of Cantabria (UC)

    Instituto de Física de Cantabria
    Edificio Juan Jordá
    Avenida de los Castros, s/n
    E-39005 Santander
    Cantabria, Spain

  • © IFCA- Institute of Physics of Cantabria