Digital After Dark

Date Posted: Aug 26, 2021

Friends of Downtown Pensacola presents a 3D digital ode to Florida’s most historic city with Son et Lumiere: Sound and Light 3D Digital Projection

Pensacola’s place in not just Florida’s history, but American history is certain: the city is the oldest Spanish settlement in the Sunshine State, General Andrew Jackson lived in Pensacola, and the actual transfer from the Spanish flag to the United States flag occurred in the city in 1821. With Florida celebrating its bicentennial this year, Friends of Downtown Pensacola chose to celebrate not only the state but also the coastal city itself at this year’s Foo Foo Festival with another historic nod: son et lumiere.

Meaning “sound and light,” son et lumiere is a form of nighttime entertainment that is usually presented in outdoor venues of historic significance. The concept is the brainchild of Paul Robert-Houdin, curator of the Chateau de Chambord in France, who hosted the first son et lumiere in 1952. “It’s all about creating a sound and light show at a historical spot to bring it to life and tell the story of that place,” adds Caron Sjoberg, Friends of Downtown Pensacola marketing consultant.

Friends of Downtown’s modern-day approach will utilize the old County Courthouse on historic Palafox Street for the digital projection mapping. The program will include all sorts of scenes, vignettes, optical illusions, lights, sounds, and movement to tell the story of when America acquired Florida from Spain. “The courthouse will be the canvas,” Caron adds. ‘It’s quite incredible how it will be used. It will really be like the building is alive, even tumbling down and being rebuilt.”

The organization has brought in Los Angeles-based Paintscaping to work with a local marketing company, Ideaworks, for the augmented reality experience. “They do amazing work and actually came to Florida before to map a rocket at Cape Canaveral,” says Caron. “They have worked with major musical artists, and they have an incredible body of work.”

In focusing in on the state’s bicentennial, the program will celebrate many significant events that have happened since 1821, the melting pot of cultures that have historically been in Pensacola, and the many cultures that together weave the fabric of the city. “There is so much history that has happened here in Pensacola, especially in downtown Pensacola,” Caron says. “We are going to use the sound and light to really tell the story in a fun and unique way. Downtown Florida is truly the heart of Florida, and we’re excited to share its history in such a fun and creative way.”

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