Tunnel Vision at the Barbican

Recently I went to see Tunnel Vision: Array at Beech Street near the Barbican Centre. As part of the Barbican’s Open Fest, the tunnel was closed off for this light show – a collaborative venture where 59 Productions created digital projections to Esa-Pekka Salonen’s music Karawane as recorded by BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

We walked into the closed off section of the Beech Street tunnel. The popular event was sold out but the large tunnel still let people have space enough to move around. Along the wall are the projectors but there is nothing to indicate the display of light, colours and patterns that will soon play over our heads on the ceiling and walls.

There are lines and checker patterns that move and change colours. Lines chasing each other, criss-crossing over the ceiling. Bright red sequins or chain-mail that shift into the appearance of sun light through leaves. Green mesh and the pattern of African cloth fill out vision. A single line of light snakes over the ceiling like a living thing. Later changing into lightning that flashes at intervals. Flowers appear in the tight lines. They circle and vanishes. Smoke flutters over the ceiling and rain drops splash on the surface of water that doesn’t exist.

The modern classical music is complicated. It rises and falls. Obviously written with the full potential of an orchestra and chorus in mind, to show off their range. The light patterns are amazing, running over the ceiling, changing, shifting, playing games with the music. It’s easy to get mesmerized.

59 Productions are not new to this game, having done the video design for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, for War Horse theatre production and for David Bowie is exhibition, to name a few. Array is the latest of installations within Culture Mile, which lets public spaces be seen in unusual, new ways.

The light show is amazing. It’s hard to imagine that we are still standing in what is normally a busy road in central London. The music is fantastic as well, on an intellectual level. I must confess that I tire of it after a while. There is another problem as well. The music is so complicated that at time the light show doesn’t seem to keep up. There are moments when so much is happening musically that the colours and light fail to highlight anything in particular. At other times the light show is perfectly timed with what’s happening in the music and the ceiling becomes a fluid screen of impressions that beautifully follow the music in atmosphere, colour change and patterns.

We walk out into the grey day. It’s snowing again but in our minds the vibrant colours still lingers.

 

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Lighting vs Writing

Contrary to what I have posted lately, this blog is about lighting design as much as it’s about literature and writing. So how come there are rarely any posts about lighting, you might ask? Or you are a hardcore literary fan and you are just glad that the lighting updates are few and far apart.

When I moved to London, I had a long list of lighting projects that I wanted to see, buildings etcetera that I had read about and wanted to see in real life. I was good at ticking off that list and to write about what I saw, analysing what I thought about it.

As I made London my home, three things have happened. My writing has taken a larger and larger part of my life as my spare time has been filled with writers groups, lectures about publishing and writing, and exciting discussions with fellow writers. I also have a full-time job as a lighting designer within retail. That sounds very exciting to everyone outside the business who think that I spend my days being creative and designing for the theatre (if only). But like any job, the day to day life of a lighting designer can be quite mundane and, to be frank, boring. I have also seen all those exciting projects that I wanted to see and have not had the opportunity to create a new list.

To be honest, in some ways I miss a lighting design group to meet up with on a regular basis to get inspiration, hear about events and projects or just to discuss where this fast moving business is heading. What are the issues we all come across on a daily basis? This is very much what I’m doing in my writers groups and it helps to keep the inspiration and excitement up even on tough days when you just want to give up and work with something else. You loose faith in you abilities or are just having an unusually hard-to-get-anything-done day.

Since I’m pursuing two professions, it easy to start comparing the two. Personally, I don’t believe in comparing unless you are trying to make a decision between two or more options. Instead, do what gets your juices flowing and do it to the best of your ability. What everyone else is doing is up to them.

20150627_135742Daylight – our cheapest, most varied and beneficial light source.

Momentum – Light Art in Motion

There is a fantastic light exhibition at the Barbican Centre that I recently went to see. The United Visual Artists has transformed the Curve exhibition hall for their light installation Momentum. The semi-circular, long corridor and high ceiling of the Curve is completely in darkness except for twelve pendulums that in different ways light up the vast space. The pendulums, specially designed for the installation, have two light sources which alters the way the pendulums emit light. In addition, the pendulums move in alternating rhythms and patterns that create different light patterns within the space. It is really mesmerising to watch the light as it changes patterns and rhythms, and how that in turn, changes the patterns of light and how you perceive the space. Momentum also has specially composed music that is in tune with the pendulums movements. I would perhaps call it sounds rather than music but it does enhance the experience by creating associations and depth.
If you have a chance, this is one exhibition you should try to catch. It’s open until June 1, 2014.

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