Light and the Manifestation of Performance Place

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Through the practice-based lens of the “Night in the Garden” at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2014) this paper explores how environments, both built and green, can become something powerfully augmented in the regeneration of cities and towns, and introduces the human experience of unexpected events as an affordance of access and belonging. In the last two decades the explosion of the light festival as a global phenomenon has created a new night-time language of temporary performance. Our urban environments are straining to develop unique visual representations that have driven a new kind of tourism. The alien performances that play out across our urban centres bring a return to the joy of the unique and the carnivalesque and are situated within the environments that we recognise so differently during the day. This creative practice-led perspective supported exploration of audience engagement and asked questions of how personal and shared experiences are generated and broadcast, while recognising this approach as part of a wider place-making phenomena, where visual culture awakens sleeping spaces. The urban domain is a canvas for storytelling open to change each time the festival rolls into town, where physical structures remain unaltered, but our perceptions of them become reanimated.