Vast in scale and epic in vision, NVA’s Speed of Light is nevertheless deeply connected to one man’s personal experience, finds Caroline Bishop.
unning has become central to my life; I run for work, I run for pleasure and I run for my sanity.” It’s ironic then, that in the year that Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of NVA, is translating his love of running into one of the biggest pieces of art the company has ever created, he has just found out that his running days may be over. “I got told by an orthopaedic surgeon that either I’ve got the wrong foot or the wrong job,” he tells me. He has neuritis, caused by misaligned bones in his toes, made worse by years of long-distance running. Though hard to deal with, he’s trying to be philosophical about the diagnosis. “I really pushed it last year and it helped me make this work. If it can’t carry on forever, so be it.” Difficult though it would be to give up running, at least he’d be going out on a high – literally and metaphorically. NVA’s most ambitious project yet, Speed of Light sees the Glaswegian company take over Edinburgh’s famous geographical landmark, Arthur’s Seat, to create a living light show involving 4,500 runners and an audience of 800 people a night. Wearing light suits, a team of runners weave patterns and colours into the mountain paths around the base, while the walking audience, carrying movement-activated light sticks, ascend to the summit to view the illuminations below. Farquhar compares the experience to looking at the earth from space. “You start on the same level as the runners and as you rise above them you begin to see that beauty of effort and the fragility of life. It depends how poetic you are as a thinker; other people will just enjoy the lights,” he laughs, “but I like to see the poetic side, that’s what inspires me.” Three years in the making, the project was a response to the call for contributions to the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. For Farquhar
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Published on Jul 15, 2012