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‘Tower of light’ opens in London to mark World War I anniversary

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A light installation, which can be seen from miles across London, has opened close to Parliament to mark the anniversary of the start of World War I

Entitled ‘Spectra’, the installation by Japanese light and sound artist Ryoji Ikeda is located in Victoria Tower Gardens alongside the Houses of Parliament.

The project consists of 49 purpose-built 4,000 watt Xenon searchlights directed upwards and arranged in a 7x7 formation.

Although made up of individual light sources, the installation – which covers an area of 22sqm – appears as a single beam of light from afar, and can be seen from vantage points across London between dusk and dawn.

The lights were first turned on last night as part of the commemoration service marking the centenary of the start of the First World War, and will remain in place for the next seven days.

Spectra by Ryoji Ikeda as viewed from Lambeth Bridge. Image: Olivia Rutherford

Spectra by Ryoji Ikeda as viewed from Lambeth Bridge. Image: Olivia Rutherford

Michael Morris, co-director of arts company Artangel which produced the project, said: ‘The project acts as a counterpoint to the single light on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier left alight at the service at Westminster Abbey yesterday evening.’

He added: ‘The site was chosen for many reasons. It is the smallest of the Royal Parks, and its size seemed just right. Its position near the seat of government was important, as was its proximity to a number of other London landmarks.’

The project is part of a series of projects by Ikeda which has been running since 2001, where similar installations of light beams have been customised for cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona for celebrations or commemorative services.

The installation will run until 11 August 2014.

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