Tape Melbourne

I came across the work of Numen / For Use in the Croatia exhibit at the Prague Quadreinnele and have been raving about them to my friends for the last few months.  In particular their Tape Sculptures which they have now built in a number of cities in throughout the world.  So, I was very excited to open the newspaper last week and see that they had constructed on of their tape works in Federation Square Melbourne.  Later that afternoon, I found myself in a line with a bunch of high school students, all waiting to have my seven minutes inside this cacoon like maze of tape.

Numen/ For Use is made up of three designers:  Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljković. Starting out as Industrial designers, they also work as scenographers for theatre. Their theatrical designs think about space is unique way and are often kinetic in nature, and use challenging materials such as mirrors.    Their use of space is very fascinating and their designs are able to create new worlds, which take the audience on journey into the work.    One of the most striking thing I found about their designs is the way lighting becomes an  integrated element in the scenography.  Lighting, staging and movement often work together to create seamless manipulation of the space; walls will move to let light in from a new place or reflect off a different surface complety changing our understanding of the world.  Even on video the effect of seeing these elements work together is magical. No wonder they won the Gold Medal for Best Scene Design and Best Use of Technology at this years Prague Quadrennial.

The idea for the Tape Sculptures itself came out of a design for a dance version of Ovid’s Metamorphosis for the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, where dancers wove the sculptures throughout the performance.  From this idea, the work has taken on a life of its’ own: part sculpture, part architecture piece the Tape scupltures encourage the audience is encouraged to climb inside and crawl around in the belly of these organic structures. Once I got over my terror of being held up by suspended packing tape,  I found my experience of being inside, amazingly calming, .  Diffused light filled the space and they sounds from outside faded away. There is a real sense of lightness being inside the Tape Sculpture, both in weight and vision that help to make this space so relaxing.  Seven minutes didn’t seem like enough time, I  could have stayed in there for hours.

Tape Melbourne is open in Federation Square until  September 24, if you can bear to stand in a long queue it is well worth it

The documentary about Numen/ For Use’s work “Chair in a Desert” that screened at the Prague Quadreinnial can now be seen on their website here.  (the last 10 minutes  is about the Tape Project but if you have the time watch the whole thing, their work is truly inspiraitonal.



World Tour: Prague Quadrennial

Held in the beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic, the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space is a the world´s largest performance design event –  showcasing work by contemporary performance designers around the world, this years festival saw 62 countries participating.

The scale of PQ was far larger then I could ever have imagined and included: National and Student Exhibits in both performance, design, architecture, light and sound across a range of venues throughout the city of Prague.  As well as the range of exhibits, PQ hosted a range of fascinating speakers and a wide range of performances.

It was quite a novelty to be at an event where I was surrounded by other performance designers. It is such a rare occurrence that you get to sit in a room with 50 other people who do the same thing as you.  PQ was a great chance to meet and speak with other practitioners from across the world, and great opportunity for me to reflect on my own practice within a global context.  It made me feel very lucky to work in an environment that where there is  great respect and trust between designers and directors.

The biggest lesson I have taken from PQ is to take more risks with my designs, as Olaf Winter said in his lecture  you need to “be prepared to fail publicly”.  This is something that I think I have been less inclined to do, as I learn more about the craft of lighting design.  I think the more I learn “rules” the harder I find it to break them, however after being exposed to so many wonderful ideas in the past few months, I am ready to embark on some new adventures in my work.

In an attempt to sum up some of the things I seen and done at PQ I have made a  list of some things that inspired me.

Es Devlin  – giant man design for Take That

Kirsten Dehlholm  – director, artistic director Hotel Pro Forma

Felice Ross – discussion about lighting reflections and “painting the air”

Hans Peter Kuhn – sound / installation artist from Berlin

Josef Svoboda – new film about the life and work of this great scenic designer

Mark Freidberg – disucssion of designer for film

Olaf Winter  – lighting colour temperature

Numen/ for use – (part of the Croatia exhibit)

Photos Selection of Exhibits

World Tour: New York – The Joshua Light Show

Tonight I was lucky enough to catch The Joshua Light Show’s performance “Fulldome” in the Planetarium at the National History Museum.

Legendary for their liquid lights show , The Joshua Light Show was made famous in the late 60’s and early 70’s as a visual accompaniment to psychedelic bands such as Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. Joshua White and his team of artists used what White terms “analogue” technologies – reflected liquid images – to create live moving pictures of light exploring ideas of synesthesia.

In this contemporary performance, the light show takes centre stage in this 360 degree experience at the planetarium.  The 50 minute show, is improvised by Joshua White and his group of artists is performed to a soundtrack written specifically for the performance.

In this video Joshua White explains how the show was put together:

A Studio Visit with The Joshua Light Show from Kickstarter on Vimeo.

The result was breathtakingly beautiful- whirling colours and shard of light flew around our heads in time with sound – perhaps this is just the synesthesia at work.   The live performance of this work is a rare chance to experience a piece of lighting history – particularly in the wake of new LED technological craze.  For the most part the images made are done by hand, and you can tell the difference, saturated colours are softer and more varied, the movement more fluid.  Call me old fashioned by there is a definite art to making this kind of show, and there is something particularly magical about seeing people make this images by hand write in front our your eyes.  The added bonus of getting to see a show like this in a space like the planetarium was a chance to completely immerse yourself in colour, light and sound.  The experience of seeing the Joshua Light Show was truly mesmerising and transcendental – even without the aid of hallucinogenics.  I guess it just shows  you just can’t beat those old technologies.

Here is some footage from the concert:

World Tour: New York – Broadway Lighting Master Class

I have now been in New York City for the past two weeks and I am having a marvelous time.  I have spent countless days in galleries and evening watching a range of great theatre.

My time on Broadway:

Kevin Adams "Passing Strange" 2008

The first few days were spent at Live Design’s Broadway Lighting Master Class, which was incredibly inspiring. Speakers at the class included: Jules Fischer, Kevin Adams, Christopher Akerlind, Donald Holder and Peggy Eisenhauer.

All the classes and speakers were amazing;  Kevin Adams and Christopher Akerlind were particular highlights.

Adams use of domestic fixtures was of great interest to me, given the nature of my own work. His inspiration draws heavily on visual arts practice of  artists such as Dan Flavin, Christian Boltanksi and Robert Irwin which struck a cord with my own practice.  Through a discussion of his work, it was exciting to see the potential possibilities of how to transfer such an idea into larger scale productions.  Furthermore, Adams use  of simple bold colours is simply breathtaking.  It has makes me want to use more colour in my own work.

Kevin Adams "American Idiot" 2010

Christopher Akerlind’s class on the other hand was a completely different pace.  His philosophical musing about lighting for theatre were a pleasant surprise that have left me pondering.  The essence of Ackerlind’s class was to think of each  light being a ‘ beautiful’ ‘gesture’ that can stand alone in space and time.   It is a magical idea, and one that has stayed with me.

The course was a great success for me,  I  only wish it had gone for longer.  I feel so inspired to continue to explore ideas I have been working on for a long time and also to try a whole host of new things.  I am looking forward to trying things out when I get home.  A huge thank you to both Australia Council and the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, without their support this would not have been possible.

artists i like: Ho Tzu Nyen

In my recent trip to Sydney I was lucky enough to catch Ho Tzu Nyen’s exhibition at Artspace.

I found his work really inspiring, particularly his video piece Earth (2009/2010) (see still)

The lighting for this work was very theatrical, and had the ability to change the viewers perception or focus within the space wonderfully. What really captivated me about this  work and his one of the other videos exhibited in the show ZARATHUSTRA: A FILM FOR EVERYONE AND NO-ONE (2009/2010) was the way the films worked the darkness; creating strange morphing objects within the shadows.

If you’re in Sydney and haven’t’ already, go check this out, its an absolute treat.  It’s on at Artspace until the 20 Feb.

Artists I Like: Matthew Albanese

I seem to have a bit of a thing for artists who make models and I have just discovered a new one.  I came across this artists listening to a podcast last week. Albanese is a landscapes photographer, painstakingly constructing his images out of a range of amazing materials;  from steel wool tornado’s to glaciers made out of sugar. I have included a few of my favorites in this post but you can see more on his website; it also includes a behind the scenes which I thought was pretty cool.