Media Arts Technology (MAT) Program professor Marcos Novak, Academic Senate Chair and sociology professor Kum-Kum Bhavnani and Academic Senate Vice-Chair and physics professor Omer Blaes will host “Community Remembrance: Help Plant a Field of Light” Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Student Resource Building (SRB) as part of the series of May 23 memorial events.
Students, staff and Isla Vista residents can help the professors “plant” temporary solar-powered lights resembling flowers in the grass pathways on UCSB’s campus leading to Pardall Tunnel. Novak developed the idea for the installation, titled Hesperus is Phosphorus (The Evening Star Carries Light).
The event is the first of two memorial projects to light the tunnel from campus to I.V., the other being an interactive light installation inside Pardall Tunnel. A third lighting project, Blunite, created by students in art professor Kim Yasuda’s class, I.V. Open Lab, will illuminate I.V. and the campus with blue lights using Professor Shuji Nakamura’s Nobel Prize-wining LED technology.
Novak said he wants the Field of Light project to resemble a field of poppies during the day and stars in the sky at night.
“I wanted to do something with a field of poppies that looked like stars,” Novak said. ‘The only way we can do this is with solar lights — they’re sustainable, we don’t need wiring and they’ll come on at night. They’ll be like a star field and you can look up at the sky.”
According to Novak, community participation is a key part of social change.
“It really takes an effort on everyone’s part to keep the world civilized,” Novak said. “It’s about what we build together. It’s the effort we put in together. And to highlight the things the world wants to encourage and diminish the things we don’t want to encourage.”
Novak said he hopes art installments like the Field of Light will increase safety on campus.
“This project is hopefully a beginning so we can do more such interventions on campus,” Novak said. “Not only annually as a reference but throughout. It’s already very beautiful but we can make it more beautiful.”
Novak said though Pardall Tunnel is frequently used, it is poorly lit and will better connect I.V. and campus once the lighting projects are complete.
“The main thing is to let people know that they’re welcome to campus, to let people know they’re safe when they exit campus,” Novak said. “To form a bridge between Isla Vista and campus and to make the presence of people in the tunnel important and illuminated.”
Bhavnani said her goal is to unite the community through the solar light display and to celebrate the lives of those who passed away on May 23 last year.
“We are honoring those who were lost,” Bhavnani said. “We want to plant the solar lights as a way to bring the community together in act of common remembrance.”
According to Bhavnani, the event is a way to remember those who passed away last spring, and the use of LED lights helps to honor Nakamura’s achievement, as well.
“I want do something for the campus and I think this is a wonderful way to remember those who are deceased and to bring light into our lives,” Bhavnani said. “Especially with Shuji Nakamura being awarded a Nobel prize, that’s also a type of honor. Somehow it all comes together.”
Event organizer and second-year mathematics major Anjali Naicker said she encourages people to volunteer as part of a community healing process.
“I really hope everyone comes and becomes a part of this artwork,” Naicker said. “The art is beautiful and it will be really magical in a way.”
Naicker said the event is especially significant because the domestic dispute Monday evening on Sabado Tarde Road triggered emotions in many students.
“We really need this, especially right now,” Naicker said. “It brought back a lot of anger and painful memories. How dare the media bring these feelings back? We need to heal now more than ever and I feel grateful to be a part of such a beautiful event.”