‘900 Years of Light’ was a multimedia performance that took place at Exeter Cathedral on 2, 3 & 4 October 2013.
The performance was Mark Ware’s response to the building’s 900 year history and the contributions that craftspeople have made during that timeline. 900 Years of Light was one of the concluding parts of the Cathedra 900 project and Mark’s work over the last 18 months exploring the cathedral and interpreting its art and architecture through photography, abstract photomontages, 3D artwork and sound.
900 Years of Light was an evening of film, readings, music and the premiere of the artist’s video composition accompanied by specially arranged music performed by internationally acclaimed trumpeter, Crispian Steele-Perkins and Lyric Strings string trio. The 900 Years of Light video composition brought together Mark’s images showing details, patterns and architectural shapes, creating illusions of stillness and movement. During the screening of the work, the cathedral appeared to breathe as its vaulted ceiling was cast with slowly changing light, and the live music resonated throughout the building.
The running order for the event was a narrative read by Emily Kreider, written by Mark Ware, a short film by award-winning Michael Bickerton entitled, ‘Votives Ornamentales’, a lecture/music recital by Crispian Steele-Perkins and finally, the screening of Mark Ware’s video composition entitled, ‘900 Years of Light’, accompanied by music arranged and performed by Crispian Steele-Perkins and Lyric Strings. Music included compositions by J.S. Bach, Byrd, Handel, Haydn, Hollins, Purcell, Gilbert & Sillivan and George Robertson.
Feedback on the 900 ‘Years of Light’ multimedia event was extremely positive. An example of this feedback is the review below written by Dr Peter Rawlinson following the 1st night’s performance.
Peter is on the Board of Trustees for the Stroke Association. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Chartered Member of the Institute of Marketing and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
‘You achieved many wonderful things in your production and it was clear what you wanted to ‘transmit’. However, I hope you’ll also be interested in what it felt like to ‘receive’ the event. If so, here’s my take on it.
It’s very easy to be ‘drowned’ when visiting a cathedral such as Exeter – things are just so big, historic, impressive, numerous, overwhelming ….that it becomes ‘just another historic place’ to tick off on the list. So it was an unpredictable delight to be ‘made’ to sit in one place for an hour during the second part of the event and contemplate a totally different view (or succession of views) of the place. This gave the time and space to not be drowned, but to think about the place differently.
For my wife, this ‘difference’ was thinking about all the different people who had been involved over 900 years to make the place what it is today. For me, it was a fantasia on the theme of ‘energy’ – all the different types of energy that had gone into the place. This started from your observation that the Potential Energy of the builders of the 13th & 14th century was still there, in the roof (I loved that thought). It continued through your highlighting the electrical energy that now flows through the power sockets, fire detectors etc, and then it really took wings during your video that conveyed the creative energies that have been poured into even the tiniest details.
I was really taken by your close-ups revealing the intricate details of the faces in the stained glass windows – amazing – and also the craftsmanship in the smallest carvings in the most obscure places and in the most important places such as the keystones of the arches. All of these are so far away from the ordinary visitor that (without your photography) we wouldn’t know they existed. And yet the individual creators put in such amazing detail, perfection and creative energy, even though their work was unlikely actually to be seen. Imagine what that says about their professionalism!
And then there’s the kinetic energy of the people and regiments that are remembered in the cathedral for their exploration (Scott), war, conquest (numerous), and the thermal energy particularly when a large number of people gather in the cathedral for an event (thermal energy emitted by the congregation, not necessarily the heating system!) Then there are the political and social energies of all the politicians, dignitaries, benefactors, clergy, social reformers etc remembered therein. You rightly named it ‘900 Years of Light’. But light is only one form of energy.
You can tell I had a great time, freewheeling in my mind over all that. Whilst the wonderful music gave a background against which to think.’