The medium is the message

Amsterdam Light Festival #7

Written by Georgia Williams
Creative Intern at VBAT

Source: Amsterdam Light Festival

Every year Amsterdam celebrates thirty-plus creatives from around the world. Giving them a brief and a format, then set their sights high, wide, small, bright, colourful or all of the listed. Amsterdam’s 7th Light Festival explores various interpretations of Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase:

“The medium is the message.”-

McLuhan set the tone for the 7th edition of the festival. Herbert Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian professor, philosopher and public intellectual, he developed one of the bases of the Media Theory. Media Theory discusses the complex of social-political-philosophical principles and then organises the ideas of the relationship between media and society.

McLuhan’s statement was simple: the medium with which we send a message is at least as important as the message itself.


Amsterdam Light Festival takes place for fifty-three days lighting up the dark wintery nights into the new year. This year’s outdoor and print campaign produced by VandeJong, created an extremely vibrant yet contemporary identity, using gradients of selected colours; working with variety of artworks. These colours are shown throughout the canals and outer areas of Amsterdam sometimes featuring no information just the gradients themselves, with this strong abstract abroad identity we, the audience can recognise the festival and type isn’t needed.

The gradient colour trend or ‘obre effect’ has become a large trend most likely developed from the growing VR, AR and / or internet culture.
Amsterdam Light Festival 2018–2019 by VandeJong Creative A

Gradient’s are commonly used to add depth and manipulate shape and form to flat colour; Vandejong created a print yet created an essence of light.


The Amsterdam-based artist Jeroen Henneman as the guest of honour. This Amsterdam based artist is commonly known for his sculptures that look like standing line drawings. For the festival he presents ‘Two Lamps’, placed on either side of canal on the most prestigious part of Herengracht in the city: Gouden Bocht.

Jeroen Henneman’s ‘Two Lamps’. Source: Amsterdam Light Festival
Jeroen Henneman. Source: Amsterdam Light Festival

Alongside Henneman there are twenty-nine+ artists from around the world one of my personal favourites from Edition #7 is ‘Natuurlijk Licht’.

Meke Vrienten is a student in Amsterdam who produced ‘Natuurlijk Licht’. Using everyday electronics to create her artworks, Vrienten study’s how we are confronted with light far more than we realise she uses everyday objects ovens, fridges, microwaves and placed them in a different location helping us see them in a completely different light.

She plays with these artificial lights and shows us how it has formed our new ‘natural light’ and has replaced the moon and sun.

Although these objects and devices have given us comfort and ease, yet the sculpture of light also symbolises our light pollution and mass consumption showing how we handle our environment.

Meke Vrienten — Natuurlijk licht. Source: Georgia Williams
Starry night — Ivana Jelić & Pavle Petrović. Source: Georgia Williams
Alle the light you see — Alicia Eggert. Source: Georgia Williams

The light festival is a must, this winter its hard to ignore the beautiful artworks that are scattered in the centre of the city, either by bike, boat or by foot the sculptures are a beautiful addition to the winter nights.


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written by Georgia Williams, Creative Intern at VBAT
edited by Connie Fluhme, PR at VBAT