We Believe

We Believe - Aarhus and London was a major interactive light installation connecting two iconic Arne Jacobsen buildings, The Embassy of Denmark in London and Aarhus City Hall Tower in Denmark, to celebrate European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017

The project perfectly encapsulated the spirit of European collaboration and cultural exchange.

From a control room on a rooftop in Aarhus members of the public were able to illuminate the architecture of the two buildings. Audiences controlled individual light sections using a series of interactive devices - turning dials, pressing buttons and more, thereby creating a 3D playable structure, so that the two buildings were involved in a symbolic conversation as the audiences interacted. The more people played, the more alive and vivid the buildings became.

A webcam was placed at the Danish Embassy enabling participants and audiences in Aarhus to follow the interactions on screens in the control room. As people participated in Aarhus, The Royal Danish Embassy in London mirrored the interaction, in a dance of light and colour, becoming a beacon to visualise European dialogue and culture.

Both buildings are power structures and the aesthetics of the control room, as well as access to it, was essential to the project. The conceptual creation of the control room exemplified the projects theme of democracy and citizen creative participation, and the audience’s participation was, therefore, at the heart of the project. A control room also elicits thoughts of power, though they are often unnoticed places, or places to which few have access. We Believe invites people to reflect on cultural exchanges between cities and countries.

Software by Tarim.
Engineering by Martin King.
Photos and Video by Jakob Lerche.

Commissioned by Association Hidden Places
Supported by The European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017, The Embassy of Denmark in London and The Municipality of Aarhus.
Light manufacture SGM Lights A/S
Light supplier: Vigsø A/S

What people said:

Visitors to the control room in Aarhus said:

“It was fantastic and very very beautiful - We Loved It"
“For a short moment, I was in control of the colouring of the Aarhus City Hall tower AND simultaneously the Danish embassy in London. Powerful experience!”
“So nice! It should always be like that!!”
“It is magic …just magic”
“We lit up our City Hall AND the Danish Embassy in London - Wow”
“It’s so international”
“We can see it from our home - love it”
“The most original in 2017”
“Can it stay forever, it looks fantastic”

Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of Aarhus Municipality said:
”We Believe” var lys og leg for rigtig mange mennesker, men også meget mere end det. Først og fremmest en imponerende smuk oplevelse med en dyb kunstnerisk bagtanke om at afprøve vores holdninger til byens rum, elegant i tråd med Aarhus2017’s tema ”Let’s Rethink”.

Ambassador of Denmark Mr Lars Thuesen said:
"Thanks to the people of Aarhus and Tine Bech for their ‘online illumination control’ of our beautiful Embassy building. You showed amazing creativity and caught the attention of the Londoners”

Rebecca Matthews, CEO of the European Capital of Culture, Aarhus 2017, said:
"We Believe was an amazing visual experience that lit up two beautiful and iconic Arne Jacobsen buildings in Aarhus and London. One of the most important aspects of the Capital of Culture year was collaborating across European borders, and We Believe was a beautiful symbol of these collaborations.”

Kristian Thrane, Community Manager, Aarhus 2017 Foundation, said:
“Visitors really enjoyed the projects interactive and playful elements. Couples and friends had fun collaborating together in the We Believe control room. The project was also enormously sharable and was posted in high numbers on Instagram and Facebook – people wanted to show that they had been part of We Believe. In addition, the project opened up a dialogue about the development and history of the city -both between audiences and with the wonderful volunteers who greeted visitors.”

Annette Damgaard curator and director, The Association Hidden Places, Aarhus Denmark said:
"The We Believe project was one of the most popular projects during the European Capital of Culture, Aarhus 2017 - it was seen from afar by over 150,000 people (Aarhus) and lots of people talked about it. The visitors were amazed and proud when they realised they could control the colour & design on Aarhus City Hall Tower in Denmark and The Embassy of Denmark in London - two iconic Arne Jacobsen buildings."