Sep 28, 2015 Comments Off on With Four Tet at the ICA
Sep 11, 2015 Comments Off on 3D stage lighting design
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.
Setup for Four Tet, Manchester International festival (July 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.
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.
Four 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…
Four 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
Aug 2, 2015 Comments Off on July/August 2015: Update and 2 shortlists
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.
Jun 30, 2015 Comments Off on Salisbury Cathedral, Magna Carta celebrations
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
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.
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.
May 13, 2015 Comments Off on Aeolian Light video
or see the full website at http://squidsoup.org/aeolianlight
May 3, 2015 Comments Off on Purity Ring world tour
We have been working with Canadian synth-pop duo Purity Ring recently on a touring lighting system for their underway world tour. The idea was to take our ‘Ocean of Light’ system – a mixture of hardware and software libraries that we have developed, and used in our own installed works such as Submergence – and place it on stage with the musicians, effectively creating a volumetric stage lighting show. Various 3D lighting effects are triggered and controlled in real time by the band.
Coming soon to a town near you!
Photos: Wunmi Onibudo
Photos: Purity Ring
— Rob Pointon (@Rob_Pointon) May 4, 2015
Mar 5, 2015 Comments Off on Submergence at Adelaide Festival (updated)
The Submergence world tour continues, hot on the tail of Mexico City, with an appearance at Adelaide Festival. The piece has the honour of being housed in the Rotunda, a beautiful (and recently renovated) bandstand, donated by the City of Glasgow some 150 years ago and positioned in Elder Park, central Adelaide. The location proved perfect, showing that Submergence, despite being conceived of as an indoor environment, works equally well as an outdoor object seen from afar.
People can still wander within the space however, and many did. Several thousand visitor came to the opening evening, and many more expected to come over the next couple of weeks.
Submergence at Blinc, Adelaide Festival, Elder Park, Adelaide from 28 February until 15th March, dusk ’til late.
festival site here
More images here
Feb 5, 2015 Comments Off on Submergence in Mexico City
Museo Jumex in Mexico City hosts the first showing of Submergence outside Europe. The exhibition is part of Visual Art Week, an excellent new light art festival. Submergence is in good company, with five large-scale outdoor pieces by Visual System (FR), Art Alliance/Peaktime (MEX), Joao Martinho Moura, (POR), Daniel Iregui and others.
The first full day saw queues extending out the door and some 2,500 visitors. These only got longer, with visitors exceeding 4,000 on the Friday and Saturday, and a total over 16,000 (paying) visitors seeing the piece in its five day exhibition slot.
Thank you Mexico.
Jan 7, 2015 Comments Off on Aeolian Light musings
Aeolian Light, our latest outdoor public artwork, comes down tomorrow morning. As we head up the M5 and M6 ready to cut cable ties and load 12,000 wet LEDs into the back of a truck, we are pondering the events surrounding the work. The weather was definitely a challenge (it rained throughout the install, though apparently a bit less since), there were various technical issues, the piece seems to have been used very robustly on occasions (a couple of striking breakages have been reported), but the piece survived throughout, and seems to have been a popular attraction for the many thousands of visitors to the installation, just outside the Lowry Theatre in Salford, Greater Manchester.
Putting work on outdoors makes for a very different experience to the controlled environment of the art gallery, or indeed any indoor space. There is less of the hushed awe of the art gallery (i.e. more like a party atmoshphere, raucous laughter, running around etc). But what was most extraordinary was the length of time people spent in the work – upwards of an hour in many cases, in the wet and freezing northern English winter.
Coverage includes The Guardian (in print today, photo highlight of the day on 5 Jan), the Times (arts critic choice ‘top pick’ in print and online), Wired UK, Luxurious Magazine, Culture 24, interviews on Granada TV and BBC Radio Manchester, and mentions in the Scottish Sun, After Nyne, ArtsHub and many more.
Also some touching and beautiful social media contributions – in particular on Twitter (also search Aeolian Light or #SquidsoupQuays) – thanks everyone for coming to see the work and telling others about it. It’s been a great experience. Thanks also to Quays Culture and University of Salford for commissioning the work.
Some nuggets from the Twittersphere above and below:
— Hannah Dornford-May (@_han) December 19, 2014
— Digital Catapult (@DigiCatapult) January 6, 2015
— Stacey (@PixPicturesUK) January 6, 2015
— Judith Moritz (@JudithMoritz) January 3, 2015
— SpecialByName (@SpecialByName) January 3, 2015
Dec 26, 2014 Comments Off on Aeolian Light at Salford Quays
Following on from Submergence, our latest piece to use arrays of light in 3D space is a new commission called Aeolian Light. The piece, commissioned by Quays Culture and University of Salford, is a 10m x 10m piece, 5m high and comprising around 12,000 individually addressable points of light suspended in space.
Inspired by the windy location, the piece visualises the wind as an illuminated chaotic force. Virtual debris and imaginary fields of energy pass through the work, carried on the wind in gusts and blasts. The strings and lights also sway physically in the wind, and people add a layer of illumination and turbulence as they walk through the piece.
Video and more information coming soon. More images here.
Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, until 7 January 2015.
#squidsoupquays. Commissioned by Quays Culture and University of Salford.