The worlds of art and technology are moving ever closer towards each other. If you have already listened to my audio file interview with Evelin Toledano you will have heard us contemplating whether or not graphic design has now become an accepted art form. In a recent article submitted to I wondered, after seeing an almost balletic bombardment conclude the Charco de San Gines Folklorica Music And Dance Festival, whether even organised firework displays have now become an art form.

A press of one or two buttons on my favourite search engine have since revealed that we can now even purchase sim applications that allow us to build our own computer generated firework effects, or choose pre-designed ones from huge effects libraries. I´m not sure what this means, though I do intend having a play with it, but you can apparently create a 3D world with realistic lighting and you can even add smoke and shadow simulation on screen, and then set the whole thing to your favourite music. (well, they say you can but I know I can´t !).

Any English people who are still as young as I am, can probably remember a tv advert from some decades ago that was shown throughout October each year. We were implored to ´light up the sky with Standard Fireworks,´ but the nearest I was able to get to that as a child was to stand with a sparkler in my hand while dad tried to launch the rockets, mum lit some lovely Roman candles and my younger brother ran screaming away from the firecrackers I was surreptitiously dropping around his ankles, and hid at the other side of the bonfire. That bonfires were still below the radar of health and safety in those days meant that parents could, for weeks in advance, coerce us kids into collecting and storing all the garden rubbish so that come November 5th dad could play at Guy Fawkes and set it alight.

Only organised communal bonfires are advised in England these days, and over here in Lanzarote recent dreadful fires on a neighbouring island have reminded us how prudent the local government is in banning bonfires more or less altogether.

Nevertheless, firework displays can be as emotionally moving as the one we recently saw, but if they are badly prepared can be an expensive, emotionally empty damp squib. By looking on  you can hear Michael Larkin, a director of Starlight Design who provided the pyrotechnic backdrop for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Bucking ham Palace, telling you how to craft your own night sky spectacular.


Perhaps, though, a successful display with its ´sky rockets in flight´, (to borrow a line from The Starlight Vocal Band´s song, Afternoon Delight) requires not only the creative and technical skills of a designer but also the receptive skills of its audience. The concluding display at the Charco de San Gines Festival was so amazing as to almost take the breath away.

It certainly quietened even the usual oohs and aaahs and wows often heard at such events as thousands of people on the beach at almost midnight gazed up into the night sky as reverentially and spiritually and silently as people who stayed up to watch the first moon landing fifty years ago.

Perhaps our English language hasn´t yet caught up with such rapid development, because my search engine didn´t seem to find a word to match my definition. I remain uncertain of what to title someone who ´choreographs´ those firework displays we´ve all seen, at least on TV, for national events, when the fires in the sky seem to dance to the soundtrack that accompanies them.

This display at Charcos de San Gines was somehow even cleverer. In the absence of a soundtrack the fireworks themselves seemed to create an audio file of percussion made up of whizzes and bangs as everything seemed to explode in exquisite timing.

The colours cascaded down a pitch black sky, and there was one movement that, as we looked up at the figures being created in the night, reminded me of the shots of the underside of the landing space crafts in Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Some fireworks seemed to hang in the air for ever, others shot up a flare and then suddenly faded away, whilst others seemed to leave a lasting colourful glow, and any artist would surely see in that a metaphor of life. Whether we felt we were watching a promise of peace or a threat of the war of the worlds was for us each individually to decide and I guess we each had to make up our own minds, too, about whether such beauty was proof of the existence of God or just another example of humankind´s ability to manufacture a lot of heat and noise.

That we are now beginning to consider these manufacturers and designers of firework displays as artists is certainly an interesting development but at the end of this incredible show we two English people in the crowd were left offering our God a line from The Kinks and say ´thank you for these days we´ll remember all our lives.´

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