Friday, April 22, 2016

Legos are Real Art in León's Holy Week

In addition to the millions of kids who love Legos, I know there are adults who revel in the imaginary creations they can achieve with small precision-made pieces of plastic.  I've always considered these construction projects a way for the so-called-artist to hold on to a piece of youth, a tribute to childhood and innocence, as these mature Legos artisians use tiny plastic people and props to create scenes from Star Wars or the Indy 500, or a million other possible scenarios. My perception has always been that these are generally good, honest people who have kept open a healthy, semi-artistic escape valve that allows them to deal with the vicissitudes of life by immersing themselves in creating miniature realities.

However, I now know that I've underestimated at least some of those I might have once considered artistic dabblers or creative model-makers.  My apologies to you Legos enthusiasts: Some of you are true, honest-to-goodness, artists. As those of you who have been following me and my blog know, I spent the weeks surrounding Easter (2016) in Leon, Spain, writing about and photographing its unique celebration of Holy Week, including the amazing processions that have been a staple of Easter for centuries. One of the things I reported on briefly was a display of Legos in a embroidery shop window that gave an artistic, but quite realistic impression of a Holy Week (Semana Santa)  procession. It was more than an ambitious Legos project.  In my opinion, it reached a level of creativity that raised it to the level of real art, so I thought I'd share more of the photos. By the way, if you've never seen one of Spain's famous religous processions and don't have a clue as to what one is like, you can get a real feel for the event just by observing this display in an embroidery shop window.

The Legos display in the window of Bordados al Instante is an amazing representation of a Holy Week procession.  You can see my reflection in the upper part of the window as I take the photograph.   (You can click on photos for a larger view.)

This is the view of an actual procession.  Note how similar the Legos representations are to the real scene.

I'm not sure that I saw anyone carrying golf clubs, since in actuality, there's no golf course nearby, but otherwise the scene is very believable.

The religious pasos (floats) are quite detailed.

Another close up of one of the scenes
Even the balcony above the central plaza is detailed with exceptional precision.

At nighttime, the streetlights come on to illuminate the scene.

Passersby constantly stop by the shop window to photograph the scene.

The next time I'm in León during Holy Week, I'll have to see how the display changes over time.  I understand it's here every year, and that it gets better in every new incarnation.

In my next blog entry, I show yo how some of the other shop windows celebrate Easter with their own creations, although without Legos.

If you want to go back and see my other Holy Week entries from Spain, you can view them here:

Part 1: Preparing for Easter Week (Semana Santa) in León, Spain – An Unexpected Surprise of Tradition, Legos, Family, Pharmaceuticals, Food & Drink
Part 2: Holy Week in León -- Family, Tradition & Food
Part 3:  The Holy Week Processions of León -- Faith and Optimism for the Future
Part 4:  Procession of the Pasos: Twenty Photographs to Help You Understand Holy Week in León on This Good Friday
Part 5:  Holy Week in León: The Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross
Part 6:  Easter in León

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Miracle in León's Cathedral

I don't know if the miracle was designed by man, or by God.  I also don't know if it occurs daily at a certain hour, or if it is a truly rare event. I'm not even sure if it is well-known, or something I discovered by accident through my photography.  I am sure, however, that it is amazing.

It was not mentioned in the pre-recorded audio handset tour of  León's Cathedral, and I can find no source for it on the Internet.  My Mother-in-Law, a native of León, was also not familiar with it.

I'm sure that no one noticed it while on the Cathedral tour, including me, or there would have been "ooohs" and "ahhhs."  It was not until today, when I reviewed the photographs I had taken two days previously that it literally came to light. But there it was on the very last frame I shot while in the interior of the Cathedral.

This is not the photo in question, but it will help you understand what you are seeing later on.  I shot this photograph of the main alter earlier in the self-guided tour. In the Cathedral, there are 737 stained glass windows, covering 1,800 square meters.  They're very difficult to photograph without a tripod and special equipment, which aren't allowed. The Cathedral is sometimes referred to as the "House of Light" because of the unique quality given to it by the stained glass. 
(You can click on the photographs in this blog for a closer view.)

The exterior of the Cathedral as it captures the warmth of the sun at the end of the day.

The rosette or rose windows of the Cathedral are known as some of the most spectacular in the world.  Most of the stained glass throughout the church is original from the 13th through 15th centuries  An exterior photograph gives viewers little idea of what they will see on the inside.

An interior view of one of the rosettes.

When I shot the final photographs before leaving the Cathedral, I purposely made them very dark to ensure that I captured the brilliant colors of the stained glass without washing them out.  While it obscured the interior details of the church, the glass shone brilliantly.  There was also something else I didn't expect.

While it seems impossible, a rosette from all the way across the Cathedral (at the main entrance of the Chruch) is perfectly projected onto the ribbed arches of the vault in the rear of the Cathedral, directly above the main alter.  It maintains its shape, colors and focus as it sits above the stained glass windows, perfectly in the center of the vault.  At first, I thought that I had accidently made a double exposure, which is very difficult to do by accident.  But the camera data shows that this is a single photograph.   It is the last exposure I made before exiting the church.  The rosette is much more visible in the photograph than it would have been to the eyes of those in the church because of its extreme underexposure.  Go back to the first photo in this post to see the same vault several minutes earlier without the projectied rosette.

A close-up of the projected rosette.

Is it possible that Gothic artists from the 13th century had the knowledge of optics, physics, and the engineering skills to purposely make a rose window project onto a distant wall?  Is this an accident of light, construction, and optics that was never planned?  Or is it a testament to the miracles that can happen when you're ready to see them? 

If anyone is familiar with this extreme effect of light in the "House of Light," please send me the details and I will post them.  Otherwise, you can still post your thoughts and opinions below in the comments section.

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