Second Signal light festival aiming for even bigger impact on viewers

Photo: archive of Signal festival

Prague’s Signal light festival was a massive hit when it was held for the first time last year, with an estimated quarter of a million people enjoying spectacular video mapping on historic buildings, playful light installations and other events around the city. Ahead of the second edition, which gets underway on Thursday, I asked Signal founder Martin Pošta whether last year’s success had made it easier to put this year’s festival together.

Photo: archive of Signal festival
“Organisation-wise it was easier. In terms of finances it was also a bit easier. It was easier to, you know, get our foot in the door.

“But from my point of view I still think we need this year to confirm the success, that it wasn’t just a big coincidence. And I think once we get there, everything’s going to get much easier.”

What lessons did you take from last year’s organisation into this year’s festival?

“Well we definitely decided to make the festival a bit smaller, in terms of number of installations. Because we wanted to focus on bringing in bigger, more complicated, more intense installations.

“We also brought more foreign artists compared to last year. We have half and half. Last year we had about five artists from abroad – now we have 10 or 11.

Photo: archive of Signal festival
“So we compacted the festival in terms of number of installations but we wanted to make them a bit more challenging, I would say – or interesting for the viewers anyway.”

Last year there were queues at some installations and I’m wondering if you’re concerned that it could become too big, that you could have too many people at some particular sites?

“Yes, that’s a concern. We never anticipated having that many visitors in the first place, for the first edition. We looked into it and we tried to find places where crowd management, crowd flow would be easier, let’s say.

Martin Pošta | Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International
“I think we have just one installation that’s enclosed, that’s indoors. All the others are outside in open spaces.

“But since the event is free, it’s hard for us to influence how many people are going to come to the festival and how crowded it’s going to be.

“For future editions there’s an idea of closing off some parts and having limited access, having tickets or something like that. But it’s a really sensitive topic.”

You have something like 20 different events. Which will be the biggest and the most spectacular?

“What I like and what I’m looking forward to is the The Pool installation by the American architect and artist Jen Levin. It’s going to take place on Kampa park. It’s 100 small circles that you step on; they make light and kind of communicate together, so it’s like a mass interactive installation.

'The Pool',  photo: archive of Signal festival
“Then I think another really, really nice installation is going to be Cyclique by French artists. It’s going to take place at Zítkovy sady by the Emauzy monastery. It’s a grid of hundreds of LED balloons, blinking.

“They have it synchronised by computer so they can control every single balloon and create patterns to the sound of music. I think it’s really going to please the eye.”

Signal festival runs from Thursday night through Sunday night.