Arts Desk

Fleetness and Light: Projecting on Washington

Crow at the establishmentarianism of Official Washington, with its chunky buildings and drab marble; turn up your nose at the fed­eral government’s sprawling dominion over District acreage; whimper over its dull regality, all honor and remembrance and boring, boring history. But don’t deny this: Downtown Wash­ington is brimming with big, flat space.

Maybe that’s why projections—as in light shot from a lens, not the kind that turn up during election season—seem to work so well here. Washington makes for an awfully huge projection screen.

That hasn’t escaped Occupy D.C. protest­ers, who brought “projection bombing” to town in 2011; nor performance artist Adrian Parsons, who beamed David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” on the National Portrait Gal­lery in protest of the museum’s removal of the work in 2010; nor projection artist Jenny Holz­er, who showed her projection-proclamations at the Kennedy Center and the Logan Circle gallery district in 2007 and 2004, respectively.

Now Washington has another projection to get excited about: Tuesday evening, as part of the opening of its Nordic Cool festival, the Kennedy Center premiered a new projection at its home near the Potomac River: “North­ern Lights.” Every night from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. till the festival ends on March 17, Danish lighting designer Jesper Kongshaug will beam his interpretation of Aurora Borealis onto all four sides of the art center’s building.

Projections, when they’re deployed in pro­test, are called nondestructive graffiti; in art, they represent a medium. Used commercial­ly, though, they foretell a new kind of invasive pop-up advertising, a rudimentary two-dimen­sional version of holograms dreamed up by sci­ence fiction writers and creepily executed, most famously, at Coachella 2012. Tupac hologram, may you rest in peace.

See the print version of this post below.

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