Today, September 18th is the bicentennial of Chilean Independence from Spain. Consequently, this whole week has been vacation for schools, and the last couple days for all other laborers. I was not alive for the bicentennial of the United States’ Independence Day, so I can’t really compare, but Chile is very proud of their country.
Among other things, all governmental buildings have been opened to the public for tours this week only, and several are showing special exhibitions. We’ve been to several museums over the past few vacation days, but if you’re like me it takes a certain magnificence in a museum to be enjoyable.
But, two nights ago, we did attend something worth mentioning. Enter ¡Pura Energía! (Pure Energy). I have to say I had been anticipating this show ever since I heard the day’s agenda one week earlier, if for no other reason than its name. Pura Energía: “with a name like that it has no choice but to be exciting,” I thought. It was that naïveté that I used to have about a book with a fancy cover: “Wow, this book must be really exciting since it’s got this outrageously cool looking cover.” More often than not I was let down within the first few chapters.
So, Pura Energía was scheduled for 9:30 pm on the front façade of La Moneda, the presidential building in downtown Santiago. And in terms of content, all I knew was that it was a professional light show. I later saw in the paper that the images they would make were three-dimensional.
We left the house at 8:00 pm to catch the subway. We weren’t alone. I’ve never seen a metro station so packed, and we were still six stops from the destination. I am obliged to link another YouTube video that I felt like I was living as we acquired passengers, but for now I will just say we were packed like a Tokyo Metro… Sardine can is an understatement.
We arrived one station down from La Moneda, since the station had been shut down in anticipation of the crowd flow, and walked out onto the street. What the streets lacked in Metro density they made up for in sheer quantity. One of the local papers had estimated 30, 000 people spread over maybe about four city blocks. We stood shoulder to shoulder to give you an idea, and we were stationed three blocks back from La Moneda.
So, we waited in anticipation for the start of the light show. The façade was a dark violet color, lit by an unseen light source, and there were huge searchlights beaming into the night sky. 9:30 rolled around and the crowd began an anticipatory whistle. All right, here we go…
9:45, someone gets on a mike and says something scarcely perceptible to our distant ears.
10:00, that same mystery voice gets on again and says some more unknown things. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “The light show I’ve been anticipating this whole week is malfunctioning, awesome.”
But then, at 10:14 pm (according to my watch), the façade turns from violet to a deep purple and the searchlights flash royal blue into the sky; a blast of music all but assures that the program has begun. The searchlights reaching thousands of feet into the night sky begin to descend on the crowd of 30,000. I felt like I was part of a science fiction movie--waiting for some huge machine to spot us with its light beams.
And then the fun began.
I still don’t know the technology used to create the three-dimensional images on the face of the building, but nevertheless I am impressed at how they took a normal building with lots of windows and uneven planes, and transformed it into a three-dimensional movie screen.
Here are a few of my favorite effects from the show:
#1: The building assumes a normal color and structure. Then, a massive drop of rain hits the surface, sending the face rippling in effect. The segments undulate back and forth like the building was just a gelatinous farce. I felt like I was living in a world created out of Inception.
#2: Once again, the building appears in its normal state. But slowly massive faces began to press out of the whitewashed stone, stretching it as if it were nothing but a nylon veil. They survey the crowd and speak something before drawing back from the elastic façade and out of view.
#3: The lights go dark, but the straight lines of the stone are still visible. Then, those same lines transform in color and new lines grow from the stone. The building is now composed and supported by a vast network of lively neon strings, ebbing and flowing in the light breeze. The strings then turned white and gave the appearance of complete vacancy within the structure.
The show finished with a grand finale of fireworks and as quickly as it had begun the building was once again tranquil, with the façade returning to its violet hue.
After that, it was a free-for-all to get out of the crowd and back onto the metro. Which brings me back to the YouTube video I promised to link. I can’t say our ride was as impressive as the Tokyo ride, but with Rodrigo leading the way I literally dropped my shoulder and pushed our way into the train. Enjoy.