A master of light architecture and design, the French artist Matteo Messervy is perhaps best known for his large-scale light installations. He will unveil his latest masterpiece at the opening gala of this year’s Galleries’ Night, held at the French Embassy on November 27. Messervy’s grand floodlighting, installed with the support of Philips Thailand, will transform the Embassy façade throughout the remarkable COP 21, the upcoming Paris Climate Conference to which Galleries’ Night is linked. Messervy recently shed light on his project in an exclusive interview with Bangkok 101.
In the last 15 years, light sculpture and architecture has transformed cities around the world, often highlighting heritage or helping to create a new urban identity. From Tokyo to Lyon (where the Festival of Lights has been turned into a world event), from Shanghai to New York, light is a central part of the urban experience, instilling the same sense of enchantment that children might feel when watching fireworks burst and bloom in the sky or a giant Christmas tree flicker to life in a city square. Bangkok is also embracing the idea of light being the focus of a show.
“We’ve been working on creating an ephemeral lighting installation in Bangkok for a while now, but the project was been postponed time and again. The COP 21 summit and Galleries’ Night occurring at the same time really gave us the right opportunity to create an event of exception,” says Messervy.
“Light is not just about brightening dark spaces—it has a far more important meaning to humans. It can heal, it can transcend life,” Messervy declares. “Light is a way to reach people, to bridge the gap between urban life, the environment, and the human being. I see my job as being like a ‘bond-maker’ with light being the main element.”
The Paris Climate Conference COP 21 takes place from November 30 to December 11, providing a prime opportunity to add an environmental dimension to the Galleries’ Night event, organized by the French Embassy. Messervy’s lighting effects will project videos of nature on the French Embassy’s striking white frontage. “We’ll screen videos of water, trees, skies—all this pure nature that urban dwellers are dreaming of—all over the Embassy’s 1000-square-metre façade. This will certainly create an exceptional experience, especially in an area of low-rise constructions that are rather dark at night,” says Messervy.
The projection will be animated by impulses that simulate heartbeats. This, according to the artist, will stress the idea that humans are bound to nature, that natural movements are the sources of life.
The lighting effects will last throughout the 12 days of the COP 21 summit. Messervy believes the installation will provide lasting memories for locals and visitors alike, “especially as we want to deliver a positive message about our environment, rather than the usual catastrophic warning,” he explains. “We want to say, ‘This is what we still have today. Please, protect and nurture it.’”