In 2016, Hfour’s art installation The Limitation of Words to Describe Feelings, captivated and lit up the Jim Deva Plaza. We caught up with Ben Cooper and Stuart Ward, the duo behind Hfour to learn more about their experience playing with light and their thoughts on Lumiere.
How would you describe the work you specialize in?
From a media point of view, most of the work we make emits photons, whether they come from interactive led lights, or video panels or projectors. When discussing the content of the artwork, we tend to create work that engages people in thoughtful ways and promotes engagement as well as playfulness.
What do you enjoy most about playing with light?
When we first started, light art was really easy to clean up. No messy paints or whatever, but now that we’re working on a larger scale, the clean up is just as difficult as other media. Now, the opportunity to use large scale light works to connect our ideas to people is really enjoyable. Seeing their illuminated faces experience a ‘wow’ moment, or an epiphany is really satisfying on a creative level.
As creatives, where do you draw your inspiration from?
There are the usual answers, you know, nature, technology, the internet, and so on, and then there’s the ‘other’, or the place beyond here and now, yet without time or space. It’s like tapping in to divine inspiration from a non-dogmatic perspective.
What is the largest ‘canvas’ you’ve worked with?
We illuminated a grove of cherry blossoms this spring for our annual event, Spring Lights. We had about fifteen thousand people come over the course of two nights. The opportunity to create an artwork that people can walk through and experience together is really quite rare and special for us.
Your Lumiere installation “The Limitation Of Words To Describe Feelings” was extremely engaging. What was your biggest take-away from that piece?
There are still a lot of good people in the world.
What is the significance of an artistic festival like Lumiere to Vancouver?
It is a starting step towards placing Vancouver on the map of contemporary media and light art practices.
What are you looking forward to about this year’s Lumiere event?
I think we worked out all the kinks and wrinkles last year, and this year we can really work to making a deeper experience.
More on Hfour
Photos by Alison Boulier.