Spectra is a beam of light generated by 49 searchlights installed in a 20-metre grid at Victoria Tower Gardens. On Monday, 4 August, the centenary of the start of the First World War, it appeared at dusk, unnanounced, for Londoners and the South East to see in the skies. The project was created by Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda.
The power of the piece is partly due to the convergence of the 49 beams. The number 49 has a resonance in many spiritual traditions – in Tibetan Buddhism, the soul is supposed to spend 49 days in the bardo state between existences; the Virgin Mary was by legend 49 years old when her son ascended to heaven; and for mystics like Boehme the number 49 represented, as the square of 7, the number of Paradise.
v1... 'beam me up, Scotty, taken from Lambeth Bridge (tripod)
v2... taken from inside the installation looking up at the convergence of the beams (17mm wide-angle lens) (handheld, max ISO)
v3... shot across the 'viewers' towards Victoria Tower (hand held, max ISO)
v4... not the best I've ever taken of the Thames! but it puts it into context. (tripod)
The white specks are moths and other flying insects attracted to the lights.