s q u i d s o u p . o r g

Icon


art, research and play in creative interaction design

SIGGRAPH 2016

DSC02872

A brand new version of Submergence was premiered at this year’s SIGGRAPH in Anaheim, Los Angeles. We had a great position in the art gallery which, this year, was curated by Jonah Brucker Cohen, and also featured works by nine other digital artists working on the theme of ‘Digital Materialities‘.

The piece used our ‘Ocean of Light’ rendering engine (written in C++/oF, more details on that soon), combined with an infra-red laser scanner (also controlled using oF), a Beads-based generative audio system and synchronisation using a separate Processing app. The OoL engine, developed in part to work real time for VJ collaborations with Purity Ring and Four Tet, is now flexible enough to create a wide range of controlled volumetric effects, from form rendering to particle systems. Watch this space…

DSC02899

SIGGRAPH 2016, Anaheim Convention Centre, Anaheim, Los Angeles CA, USA. 24-27 July 2016.

DSC02850

Field – new project at WNO, Cardiff

 

Very happy to announce our latest project, Field, launched last week at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff, commissioned by Welsh National Opera.

Field is an immersive artwork and memorial for 923 Royal Welch Fusiliers who died at the Battle of the Somme during the First World War and have no known grave. The piece was commissioned by Welsh National Opera to accompany their major new opera, In Parenthesis, by Iain Bell.

The 923 lights represent the many fallen fusiliers whose names are inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial in France. Some of these men would have served with ‘In Parenthesis’ author, David Jones, during the battle at Mametz Wood July 1916.

The work seeks to create an environment for remembrance and contemplation; one that connects the spiritual and elemental with the physical, the unseen with the seen, our past with our present.

Wales Millenium Centre, Cardiff Bay, 13 May – 22 June 2016

#WNOField

 

DSC02797

DSC02805

So far in 2016 – Four Tet, Kylie, Purity Ring and more…

2016 has been fun so far – we worked our lighting systems twice with Four Tet, and also with Kylie Minogue. Purity Ring continue world domination with our setup, resulting in two appearances at Sydney Opera House already this year (Four Tet and Purity Ring both played there!). And we put on a workshop in Amsterdam and a new installation in the UK.

Untitled

We started the year off building a volumetric light experience with Four Tet at Sydney Opera House, and last week we did it again at the Roundhouse. Images here.

Untitled

//

We also built a 30m long chandelier suspended 6.5m from the ceiling at Old Billingsgate for the Prince’s Trust, consisting of over 12,000 individually controlled points of light. It was part of a fundraising event to celebrate the Trust’s 40 years’ work supporting disadvantaged children. The chandelier was controlled in real time to illuminate the space with ambient dynamic clouds and abstract visuals through to a vibrant VJ set to accompany a live performance by Kylie. More images here.

Princes Trust Invest In Futures 2016_2 (low res)-132

//

Purity Ring have performed using our Ocean of Light system on so many gigs we have lost count – including Sydney Opera House this January, and the Roundhouse last Autumn. Their latest video, Heartsigh, proudly bears our mark!


//

We had a lot of fun running a workshop for about 25 enthusiastic Dutch coders, enabling them to produce realtime volumetric visuals using the ‘Tectonic‘ installation setup and systems we installed in Amsterdam in December and January.

//

And we also put on another installation at Swindon’s Steam Museum (Wiltshire, UK) as part of Create Media’s Digital Journeys exhibition.

Tectonic – new project

DSC02716

Tectonic, a new Ocean of Light project commissioned by Dutch design agency LAVA, launched on December 12th, and runs until 23rd January 2016.

DSC02720

The piece uses a combination of visual approaches, combining the particle systems used in our earlier work with more geometric forms. This is also a piece where the music is to the fore.

We are also running a one-day workshop on the last day of the exhibition – more details here.

More images here. Video coming soon.

Kew Gardens

IMG_5590

Very pleased to be part of this years’ Kew Gardens winter festivities.
Kew Gardens, London. 25 November 2015 – 3 January 2016.
More images here.
#christmasatkew or visit here

IMG_5637

Untitled

IMG_5606

Untitled

Enlightenment in Lincoln

DSC02702

Enlightenment – commissioned by (and first exhibited at) Salisbury Cathedral earlier this year – has been transferred to Lincoln, where it is being shown as part of Frequency festival 2015. The move places the work in a completely different space, and both have transformed as a result. Now set within an industrial aesthetic, rather than the classic Gothic architecture of the cathedral, the piece illuminates and engages actively with the space and its visitors in a very different, but equally effective way. Lincoln residents seem to have taken to the piece.

Frequency 2015

Enlightenment, @WatersideSC, Lincoln, from 23 October – 1 November 2015.

More images here.

DSC02680

With Four Tet at the ICA

Short film by @futuresunfilms of the recent performance by Four Tet within our Ocean of Light rig. The event was performed in-the-round at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts, London) on 25 August 2015.

3D stage lighting design

ica001
The Ocean of Light project, whose aim is to explore the creative potential of large 3D arrays of controllable LEDs, has in the past mainly focused on art gallery and public spaces as venues for experimentation. We have recently had some opportunities to play in a new setting, however, as we have been working with some wonderful and adventurous musicians on lighting for live stage performance. It’s been a thrilling ride. It has provided us with a very different set of opportunities and constraints, pushed us into developing new visual ideas, and also resulted in a set of software tools that we hope will be useful in future work. Untitled
Setup for Four Tet, Manchester International festival (July 2015)

DSC02370Purity Ring, World tour 2015

The tool is very much a work-in-progress; the sections that have been built have been designed for the specific requirements of the two performers we have worked with. However, they work in very different ways – one band triggers lighting behaviours themselves, with the other we are controlling the lighting in real time using a set of interfaces we built for the purpose.

Untitled
Ocean of Light control interface. Four Tet, MIF, Manchester.

The process has presented many dilemmas, to do with being forced to select and rationalise a coherent approach from an eight year library of experiments (in at least three different development platforms). There is plenty more to do, but this is at least a start.

Stage lighting control is not a new industry, but we are new to it. It certainly feels like we are the new kids on the block, unaware of the terminology, techniques and protocols in place. People and colleagues have been very interested in what we are doing, and happy to offer general advice and act as fallback, covering such details as actually, err, lighting the performer…

Lighting design has come on a long way recently, to the point where the gobos and lights used in large numbers today can be coordinated, with beam shape and multiple hues from a single source choreographed in real time. Combined with haze, these do create volumetric experiences; cones or lines that scan the space, defining volumes that stretch far beyond the confines of the stage. But from an outsider’s perspective they are still limited in what they can do – essentially a series of cones emanating from fixed points.

We were never-the-less technologically outgunned. These people have very powerful state-of-the-art LEDs as standard, whereas our LEDs are cheap, they are rated at 0.6W each and they are omni-directional. The only thing we have going in our favour is quantity. A pro lighting rig will currently have maybe 40 or so lights to control – we have 5,000 or more.

And used together, those thousands of suspended LEDs are capable of producing 3D form and movement in physical space – which is the whole point of the exercise.

At the most recent gig with Four Tet (at the ICA, London) the performance was in-the-round. The ICA is an intimate setting, with a small audience, and the aim here was to blur the boundaries between stage/performer and audience. Four Tet was on a low stage in the middle of the lights, and the audience was also allowed within the lights – to within reach of the performer.

ica039Four Tet, ICA. 25 August 2015. Photo Future Sun

We are now looking for opportunities to blur more boundaries. One that we have in mind is the boundary between performance and installation. These projects began as responsive installation pieces, and are moving into performance. There is no reason the two can’t be combined, either simply as having the space act as a responsive installation at times, and a performance space at others… but the possibility of creating a true, and new, dialogue between audience and performance is beginning to emerge…

ica023Four Tet, ICA. 25 August 2015. Photo Future Sun

Currently, Purity Ring are touring with the system in the US, Australia and Europe. We will be performing with Four Tet again at the Roundhouse (London, UK), in February 2016. Working with both musicians has been a pleasure, an honour and a great source of inspiration – and we look forward to further collaborations with them.

 

Purity Ring: www.purityringthing.com/

Four Tet: www.fourtet.net

 

 

 

July/August 2015: Update and 2 shortlists

IMG_0457Secret Garden Party

DSC02455Salisbury Cathedral

July has been a busy month for us. We have two installations running at Salisbury Cathedral, we showed a new untitled light sculpture at the Secret Garden Party festival in Cambridgeshire UK, and also did our first stint as VJ/lighting designers for a gig with Four Tet at the Manchester International Festival. Another project of ours, ‘Please do not feed the Bugs’, is currently on tour in China in Shijiazhuang and heading for Xian and Beijing (in collaboration with TIFF) and will also be on show in France in October; and Purity Ring continue their world domination tour using our lights and software. So, if you want to experience our work first hand, there’s never been a better time.

We have also been shortlisted for TWO international competitions – if you are eligible to vote in either (and everybody is eligible to vote in one of them), we’d deeply appreciate your support.

LUMEN prize has shortlisted Aeolian Light, the largest LED volume we have made, that withstood 3 weeks of harsh Mancunian winter weather outside Salford’s Lowry Centre and commissioned by Quays Culture. Details at http://lumenprize.com/artwork/aeolian-light.

We have also been shortlisted as one of the best light art installations for the DARC awards. Details at  http://www.darcawards.com/view-entries/. If you are eligible (for this you need to be an independent lighting designer or light artist) we’d sure appreciate your vote!

Current and upcoming events:
Enlightenment + Power of Words. Salisbury Cathedral. Until 7 September
Four Tet. ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 25 August 2015).
Please do not feed the Bugs (Nejma, La Roche sur Yon, France, 1-8 October 2015)
Please do not feed the Bugs (China tour, July 2015 – April 2016):

  • Hebei Museum, Shijiazhuang.
  • Hunan Provincial Museum, ChangSha.
  • Shaanxi History Museum, Xi’an, Shaanxi.
  • Chinese Museum of Women and Children, Beijing.

Salisbury Cathedral, Magna Carta celebrations

DSC02510

Salisbury Cathedral, home to one of four original copies of the Magna Carta, is celebrating the 800th anniversary of its signing. We were commissioned to produce two artworks for the event: Enlightenment and Power of Words

DSC02485

ENLIGHTENMENT continues the explorations of volume and light used by its predecessors such as Aeolian Light (2014) and Submergence (2013). Over 6,000 individually controllable points of light are suspended 7m from the North Porch at the cathedral. The piece was inspired by the ripple effect of the Magna Carta over time and space; how its influence has changed and grown over time to encompass a large part of the world.

DSC02463

Another project, POWER OF WORDS, adorns one wall of the Morning Chapel. Quotes and phrases from the Magna Carta grow organically over time, but can be disturbed, shaken and destroyed by visitors. By disrupting the structure of the growing words, key phrases emerge, encouraging visitors to reflect on the consequences of their actions, the meaning and concepts behind the Magna Carta, and their relevance today.

DSC02473

DSC02482

Both exhibits are free to the public and open daily until 6 September 2015.
More info here.
More images here.