Speed of Light, created by public art organisation NVA, is today confirmed as being funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to create a cultural legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK.
The large scale work’s premiere will be a major feature of Edinburgh International Festival 2012 running for the full three weeks of the Festival on Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s iconic city mountain, . The show is described as "a unique melding of innovative mass participation art and sport."
Speed of Light will explore people’s sense of self and of place in the world, their aspirations and key areas of common concern; health and environmental sustainability.
The project will be accompanied by a programme of associated activity over a period of three years from 2012-14.
Large numbers of amateur sports and arts enthusiasts of all levels of ability will be invited to help create the event, bringing together people from all over Scotland to celebrate sport and culture and connecting them directly to the aspirations of the Festival, the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games.
Using light sources powered by physical and kinetic movements, the mountainside presentation will promote the latest energy conservation technologies developed in partnership with the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Edinburgh’s other major festivals are also exploring ways in which they will be involved in the project.
Part of the Cultural Olympiad celebrations, Speed of Light will run throughout the three weeks of the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival, the dates of which bridge the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.
21km x 21 days
As well as the evening events, each day the Speed of Light 21 x 21 endurance event will explore the extent to which the power of the mind can overcome physical suffering. Runners from across the UK will be able to take part in a daily 21 kilometre half marathon over 21 days, covering a total distance of 441 kilometres around and over Arthur’s Seat.
The collaborative methodology behind the work will be documented, discussed and shared widely beyond 2012 with further presentations linked to Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, adding a considerable body of knowledge to Scotland and the UK’s cultural sector.
Angus Farquhar, Creative Director NVA said, ‘The Legacy Trust UK funding has created the chance to bring together a passion for mountains and distance running in one of the world’s great cultural festivals, it is a moment that only happens once’.
Dugald Mackie, Chair of Legacy Trust UK said: ‘Speed of Light will help spread the magic and excitement of the 2012 Games outside London and leave a lasting legacy across Scotland. The Games aren’t just for two weeks, and they’re not just for sports fans. Through projects such as this, they will have an enduring impact on many people’s lives.’
Jonathan Mills, Edinburgh International Festival Director said: ‘Speed of Light is a vast and exciting project with important and timely ambitions and values. We are very proud to be presenting its premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2012.
‘This project also represents the first major artist-led collaboration involving the gamut of Edinburgh’s festivals. Its breadth is challenging us to look at new ways of working and the many ways in which it might be possible for us each to engage with the scope and ideas of this visionary work.
‘We very much hope to make the most of the many opportunities it presents to grow relationships with sporting and community organisations and to develop environmental work.’
NVA: in its own words
"NVA’s vision is to make powerful public art articulating the complex qualities of a location through collective action. Our practice creatively engages participants physically and creatively in redefining urban and rural landscapes.NVA is an acronym of nacionale vitae activa, ‘the right to influence public affairs’. Generative models of exchange are created to stimulate people to use ideas and methodologies to support their own development and means of expression.
Our projects create an intense and long-lasting sense of ownership and memory in the people involved. The act of taking part can release strong emotional ties, with the landscape itself or with aspects of our individual histories, inter-mingling the private and public.
Established in 1992, NVA is a registered Scottish arts charity funded by Creative Scotland and a number of UK trusts and foundations. The organisation has produced award winning and dynamic projects in challenging landscapes – these have included temporary environmental lighting animations on the mountains of Skye; permanent spaces such as the Hidden Gardens in Glasgow, the current resuscitation of St Peter’s Seminary and major urban lighting festivals."