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13 Jan 2020

Enter a Labyrinth of Light, Color and Air with Dodecalis Luminarium

Enter a Labyrinth of Light, Color and Air with Dodecalis Luminarium
This free Sydney Festival installation consists of three domes, each based on the dodecahedron (a 12-sided solid). Expect to be dazzled and disorientated.

The UK’s Architects of Air has returned to Sydney Festival with another magnificent inflatable installation. This time, it’s the wildly impressive, mesmeric creation known as the "Dodecalis Luminarium", a labyrinth of tunnels, domes and secretive spaces at Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park. 

It is often a sense of wonder in which people can experience the full showcase of a luminarium. What is a luminarium you may ask? Well, the idea derives from the Latin word "Luminar" meaning "to light" it can be defined as a walk-in sculpture designed purely by the display of lights and colors. Often each luminarium is an original design in order to capture the imagination of the audience and artists alike. 

Dodecalis Luminarium does exactly that. When visitors walk inside they enter an alternative, lucid and dream-like world filled with dazzling lights in a myriad of colors. But the surprising thing is that it’s all derived from sunshine – diffused through translucent, recyclable, custom-made PVC material, making this truly a one of a kind innovation. 

The sculpture consists of three domes, each based on the dodecahedron (a 12-sided solid) and evocative of Islamic architecture. A web of tunnels links them together.

“I’ve experimented with different approaches to the dodecahedron for 25 years,” says Parkinson. “The form attracts me because it has an asymmetric floor plan that helps to disorientate the visitor. It is essential that visitors lose themselves.”

Getting lost is so very easy. One minute you find yourself in a narrow disorientating tunnel, the next in a high-ceilinged room, the next in an alcove. As the spaces and atmosphere change around you, so too does the color of the light – from electric blue to warm red to cool green – and the geometric patterns are above and around you.

“Without a doubt, my favorite part is the Main Dome,” says Parkinson. “I love the calmness of it; a calm that you’ll only find after you’ve passed through the more exciting elements of the luminarium.”

Adding to the experience is the music that plays throughout which only adds to the atmosphere and aura of the whole event. It is the "Mountains of Venice" by UK-based composer David Bickley. “I particularly like the music for its capacity to create a mood of slow contemplation – and I hope it will have a similar effect on the Sydney visitors,” says Parkinson.

He founded Architects of Air in Nottingham in 1992, after spending years experimenting with pneumatic sculptures.

“I got into inflatables very much by accident,” he says. “I am self-taught in design and, for some reason, inflatables are a good fit with my aptitudes, for which I’m grateful.

“I’m not entirely sure what the appeal of these inflatable environments are for me – my intuitions about it have shifted with time and there are many dimensions to the experience.

“The fundamental thing that still touches me is the experience of light and colour. I’m still ambushed by the instances of beauty that somehow take me by surprise, even though I’m so familiar with the physical objects.”

This will be the Architects of Air 3rd visit to Sydney as they have visited Sydney Festival twice before – with Exxopolis in 2014 and Mirazozo in 2011.