Have you seen LUNA Fete the Gallier Hall light projection?
Numbers appeared on the facade of Gallier Hall on Sunday night: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6. The crowd of hundreds across the street in Lafayette Square counted down, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” Then the Luna Fete animated spectacle began.
For the next nine minutes, high-powered video projectors wrapped the 1853 municipal building with color, light and motion as audio speakers flooded the area with a musical collage of Crescent City-style jazz and R&B.
The projection portrays a fast-paced, upbeat view of the growth of New Orleans, from swamp to steamboat port, to contemporary Carnival on St. Charles Avenue. In a surrealistic stream, snakes and alligators slither over the neoclassical columns, rainbow-colored silhouettes wander the walls, a paddle wheeler plies a digital river, a meteor shower angles across the pediment, bats drift across a spooky imaginary cemetery, the building explodes into digital confetti, flowering vines consume the architecture and on and on.
The overall emphasis is a celebration of New Orleans’ environment and culture. Troubling aspects of the city’s long history are largely absent. Though, at once point, the 19th-century structure seems to be consumed in flames and later it is inundated with a cascade of water.
Luna Fete is clearly meant as a collective expression of Crescent City joie de vivre, and on Sunday it seemed to achieve that goal. When the music faded and the lights dimmed at the end of the short show, the crowd applauded appreciatively.
Internationally known French light art company La Maison Productions composed the large-scale dreamlike vision, which was commissioned by the Arts Council of New Orleans at a cost of roughly $150,000. Kim Cook, who became Arts Council director in August 2013, hopes that the Gallier Hall projection is just the beginning of a series of outdoor light displays that will someday become a regular part of the New Orleans art scene.
Were you there on the first night? Did you applaud? In my opinion, the best part of the 7 o’clock show was when the St. Charles streetcar rumbled past the projection just as a tsunami of CGI water poured over the building. What was your favorite part?