Sharks with laser beams

Chris Levine’s laser show on Hastings Pier is an immersive experience. This is notwithstanding the immersion in rain, which is torrential for part of the evening.

There is a slightly annoying air of mystery about the event. It was actually quite difficult to find out much about it. It’s called the iy_project. This seems to be because all the good names were taken. It was near impossible to even find out what time the event was suppose to start. Luckily the Hastings Pier website had this pertinent information. There is supposed to be an app to go with the event and despite fiddling around trying to find the underscore on an iPhone to search for it, it’s definitely not there. Several sources mention this non-existent app. Quite frankly, it sounded a bit ludicrous anyway, a real time interactive app – when you are standing on a pier in the rain. It also made the event sound a little dated. Does anyone use apps any more?

Anyway, I’d expected throngs along the beach and packed pier. The weather has been ‘Miami style’ in Hastings for many weeks, but there’s been a hint of autumn the past week or so and tonight the sky cried. There is still a very generous turnout. The atmosphere was subdued and contemplative. It did have the feel of an art show, especially at the end of the pier, which was the immersive hub of the light show.

Without wishing to sound ungenerous, myself and I think a fair proportion of the crowd have grown up through the acid house era. We love lasers. We want lasers. Arty lasers are always a bit underwhelming after the kind of laser show that accompanies 808 State to 2,000 tripping and/or stoned fans. Quite frankly, whilst the ambient electronic sounds tonight were OK, I had a yearning for The Orb’s Towers of Dub and a bit more laser action. They were nice, but they didn’t really do anything. The spectacle was perhaps more static than people expected. It was still very beautiful and very impressive, The technical work put into the design and especially the challenging build across an Art Deco building, a Norman Castle, a renovated Victorian pier, and a boat 400m out to sea really is an achievement.

I absolutely love Hastings Pier. This show really showed off how it’s expansive space (and dramatic backdrop of the English Channel one way and Hastings shoreline and beaches the other) can be used for cultural heavy hitters, rather than tacky penny arcades. It is mainly this angle that made my night, and shows how uniquely positioned the pier is for major location specific artworks and events.



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