This and That

Random bits of my life

Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014: House of Cards

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 18, 2014

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Zoom blur of “House of Cards” by OGE (architects Gaston Zahr and Meirav Eitan). If only the dome of the Hurva Synagogue hadn’t had that burnt-out light bulb on the right. Oh, well, it adds some interest. The trefoil stained glass window is not centered because the window, the dome, and the “House of Cards” are not aligned on a single axis. Like all photos, it’s a compromise.

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I met one of the architects, Gaston Zahr, six years ago at the first Jerusalem Festival of Light (2009). He had emailed me to tell me that he liked the photos I took of the solar-powered flower installation, “Night Garden,” and we all met up a couple nights later (2009). We chatted for a while and I photographed him with Baruch again. The cards are based on Jean David’s cards designed for El Al in 1970.

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Gaston pointed out that the corner cards are square. In a real house of cards, you can overlap at the corners. This is not possible with glass panels set in a steel frame, so a different solution was found. This installation took about a month to construct.

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Gaston (left) and Baruch in 2014:

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and in 2009:

Gaston Zahr, O*GE Architects

I did make a short video of the installation but Gaston’s video is much better, so I’ve embedded it below.

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#BringBackOurBoys

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 16, 2014

#BringBackOurBoys

The whole situation is heart-breaking — a parent’s worst nightmare. As parents we try to keep our kids safe, but sometimes the unthinkable happens.

I took this photo a few minutes ago in the courtyard at work (two amazing coordinators organized the photo shoot in record time; I was just the photographer with an iPad).

Ittael Fraenkel is the aunt of one of the kidnapped boys, Naftali Fraenkel. She’s also my coworker.

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Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014: Cuckoo Clock

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 13, 2014

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I love the Cuckoo Clock (AVS Creative, Israel) on the Christian Information Center building! It’s whimsical and clever, with the gumballs rolling down the street and soldiers emerging from the doors. The walls with windows on the upper story appear to crumble or fold inwards, revealing the clock mechanism.

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Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014: Damascus Gate Chrysalis

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 13, 2014

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The “Damascus Gate Chrysalis” was the most memorable exhibit at the Jerusalem Festival of Light 2014. If you only have time to see one installation, try to get to the Damascus Gate. The shows are continuous, with about five minutes between each presentation. If you plan to see it in person, I recommend that you not view the video at the end of this posting. My video, made with a hand-held camera, does not do it justice. Damien Fontaine used the chrysalis concept in 2012 (Les Chrysalides de Saint-Jean, Lyons Light Festival) and in 2013 (Bolchoï Chrisalis).

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Blue and Green Trail: A Couple Great Moments

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 13, 2014

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Above: Fully moon photographed through the “Tower of Light” in Zahal Square.

I covered the Blue and Green trails last night, despite the heavy Thursday night crowds  (I move much faster when I’m alone). The best of the lot was the “Damascus Gate Chrysalis” (Damien Fontaine, France), a brilliant video-mapping installation. I’ll post other photos and a video later. If you plan to see it in person, don’t watch the video. The real thing is much more impressive. Someone asked me about security. None of the trails goes into the Muslim Quarter this year. The Damascus Gate installation is viewed from the street. There are a lot of police, ambulances, and security guards. I did these routes alone, as I have other years, and it was fine.

The “Damascus Gate Chrysalis” portrays the gate as blocks unfolding secrets, through curtains, machinery, flames, and tumbling blocks. If you see only one installation, do try to see this one.

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The Broad Wall in the Jewish Quarter was transformed into “By the Rivers of Babylon” (creator: Eli Weisbart, designer: Yaron Zinman, Israel). A constantly changing projection, to the background of the psalm set to music, played over the stones of the wall, interweaving waves, fish, faces?, and other mysterious images. Unfortunately, this site is nearly inaccessible. The wall is below street level, surrounded by a high fence. The crowd was about 4-deep and children had to be lifted up to view it. I was able to photograph and video it only by holding my camera above my head and pointing it through the bars. If you go on a less crowded night you may have more luck.

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The following exhibits I found only moderately interesting.

The “Fountain of Mythology” (Mystorin Theatre Group, Israel) was situated in the Muristan Square. If countertenors dressed like over-sized 17th century butterflies are your thing, this might interest you. I made a short video of the performance with an iPad, so you can decide for yourself.

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Illuminated dancers (Pyromania, Israel) perform on the grass outside the Old City Wall on the way down to Damascus Gate.

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Just one word for “Fishing for Light” (Nissan Gelbard, Israel): Numbing. Numbing trance music, numbing flashing lights.

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In the home decor category: “Cloud” (Catlindr.c.Brown [sic] and Wayne Garrett, Canada). People seemed to like pulling on the strings to turn the lights on and off, but it didn’t appeal to me. Blue Trail

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“Connected,” by Bernardo Scolnik, Israel.

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If you’re having a deja vu moment, maybe you went to the Festival of Light in 2010 (also Bernard Scolnik):

Light sculptures along the street

“Thread of Light” (Ina Turbievsky, Israel): “The unique and complex ‘knitting’ technique employed by the designer weighs the deep meaning of each and every detail.” Nice lampshades.

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“Holiday Atmosphere” at the Church of the Redeemer (Sarit Mor, Israel). At least it was only trying to be festive, without deep meaning.

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Festival of Light 2014: First Night

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 12, 2014

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The sixth Jerusalem Festival of Light opened last night. I think this year’s exhibits may be stronger than last year’s, although admittedly I’ve only seen the White and Red trails. The “Garden of Dreams” (above), by Luminarie De Cagna, was a spectacular opening installation. My husband remarked that some of the installations in this space in other years have been a bit wishy-washy. This huge castle was gorgeous once it was lit.

There were several very good video-mapping installations (more on that in another post). Batei Mahsei was transformed into a “Circus of Light” (Nuno Maya and Carole Purnelle, OCUBO), with clever animations and Terry Gilliam-like collages.

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O*GE (Gaston Zahr and Meirav Eitan) constructed an unusual house of cards, based on Jean David’s iconic deck, in the plaza by the Hurva synagogue. The installation took about a month to create, requiring very precise welding at the angles. Gaston pointed out that the corner cards are actually square. When you create a real house of cards, you can overlap them. When the cards are panels of lights, a different solution has to be found.

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The wall at the end of Armenian Patriarchate Road usually has a small video-mapping work. This year’s “Arch” (Theoriz Studio & BKYC) was beautifully coloured.

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This year, unlike the past few years, there was no paid performance in Gan Habonim. However, you could sit on lawn chairs around Philippe Morvan’s “Cosmogole,” watch the pulsating lights and enjoy the music.

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A few final thoughts: The crowd control is much better than it has been in the past. The Jewish Quarter route (White Trail) in particular has had very serious crowd issues in the past. This year a one-way system of traffic has been enforced, so that you enter from Jaffa Gate and leave by Zion Gate, which will take you to one end of the Red Trail. You can do the White and Red Trails comfortably in one evening.

Second, although the festival begins at 8:00, we found that many of the exhibits started late and were much more impressive in full darkness, so I recommend arriving no earlier than 8:30.

Third, in case you have never been before, parking is impossible and there are large traffic jams. It’s a good idea to read the info about traffic arrangements. Leave the car at one of the outlying parking lots and come to the Old City by light rail, shuttle bus, or on foot. Enjoy!

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Crib Goch

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

Before you ask, we did not go on Crib Goch, but I searched for a few YouTube videos to show why. :-) If you suffer from acrophobia or vertigo, you might want to skip these.

Crib Goch in fog (one of the most common weather conditions):

Crib Goch in good weather:

Crib Goch in winter (gets better after the intro because you can hardly hear anything over the wind). You can understand why Sir Hillary did his Mt. Everest practice runs on Mt. Snowdon.

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Snowdon Summit

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

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We were lucky that the clouds had cleared when we reached the top of Snowdon. If you arrive during a cloudy patch, you see nothing but fog and it’s very cold up there. Winds can reach 200 mph on the summit. Above, you can see both Llyn Glaslyn and LLyn Llydaw. The path on the left is part of the Miner’s Trail, which we took on the descent.

The ridge in the next photo is part of the Horseshoe Trail (one of the dangerous routes), which gives you an idea of Crib Goch. One walks along a knife-edge ridge, created by two parallel glaciers carving the valleys on either side, with drops of hundreds of meters on either side. There is no escape route–you go forward or back. When it’s windy and visibility is very poor, you can understand how people run into trouble. About 15 people a year die on Snowdon.

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Hikers eating lunch in the clouds. It looks safe, but you can go rolling over the cliffs if you slip. By the time we got to the top of Snowdon I didn’t feel like climbing down to the grassy areas, so we ate near the steps of the visitor center.

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Brass plaque on top of the cairn points out the landmarks surrounding Snowdon. On a clear day you can see Ireland and England’s peak district.

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This photo shows the ridge of Crib Goch, about a third of the way from the left. the path halfway up the slope is the Pyg Trail. The one winding around the lake is the Miner’s Trail.

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Mount Snowdon: “Pyg Up, Miner Down”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

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“Pyg up, Miner down” was the advice some rather merry Welshmen in the hotel bar offered my husband. There are six main trails to Mount Snowdon: Llanberis and all the rest. Llanberis is not too challenging and roughly follows the railway line. All the other climbs are a bit more strenuous. One or two fall into the “not recommended unless you are an experienced mountaineer with paid-up life insurance” (that doesn’t stop people from trying). Although Mount Snowdon is only 1000 meters high (in other words, not high by world standards), it’s made more challenging by slippery rocks, high winds, very changeable weather, and poor visibility. If you are in good physical shape and allow enough time (3-4 hours each way is a realistic estimate) and choose good weather, you will have no problem. If you set out 2 hours before darkness or choose a rainy day to walk Crib Goch, your chances of injury or death are a lot higher.

The origin of the name “Pyg” (sometimes spelled “Pig”) is uncertain. It’s a good trail for ascending Mount Snowdon if you’re staying in Betws y Coed because it starts at Pen y Pass, which has the highest elevation of the various starting points (so less uphill climb) and is fairly close to Betws y Coed. We took Sherpa bus #2 to the Pen y Pass parking lot. There is a helicopter landing point at the beginning of the trail. The blue helicopters haul huge stones to repair the paths. The rescue helicopters are yellow.

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The beginning of the Pyg trail is an easy, occasionally steep climb. The peak just ahead is not Snowdon but Crib Goch, a dangerous knife edge with drops of 100s of meters on either side. That ridge also has the most changeable weather. Walking a knife edge in fog is not my idea of a good time.

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Assuming that you don’t turn right up Crib Goch, but turn left over the ridge, you see Llyn Llydaw (Lake Brittany), a large glacial lake with a causeway crossing it. The lakes are blue from the copper (these mountains were mined for copper and slate). The causeway was built in 1853 for the Brittania Copper Mine company, to allow horses and wagons of copper to cross. The lake had to be drained by 12 meters in order to build the causeway. Before that time, a raft was used to transport the horses and wagons.

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First view of Mount Snowden, the peak on the right side of the next photo. The lake is Llyn Glaslyn.

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View of Llyn Glaslyn on the ascent up Mount Snowdon itself. You might notice that the weather is constantly changing in these photos. We chose a partly cloudy day. When it’s sunny, you could walk around in a light shirt. When the clouds descend and the wind picks up, you need a hat and gloves. No joke. You really have to dress for a wider range of weather conditions and rockier paths than what we’re used to.

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Betws y Coed in the Evening

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 8, 2014

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These photos were taken our first evening in Betws y Coed. It’s hard to believe that the placid river in the first photo is the Conwy. By the time it reaches Llandudno, it’s much, much wider and has a strong current.

Suspension bridge over the Conwy river:

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Tombstones around St. Michael’s church, which dates from the fourteenth century:

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