MCA Interview for Light Show

Earlier this month I did an interview with MCA for their Light Perspectives in the lead up to their Light Show.

Here it is:

Can you recall a memorable experience you had with light?

When I was about 10 years old my mother took me to see a Netherland Dans Theater Performance, at the Arts Centre. The work involved these large dresses and the performers were underneath them and lit in a way that made the dancers look grotesque. I found the experience terrifying and exciting. This is probably one of my first memories of lighting design in performance and I still think about it often.

As a lighting designer, do you feel more in tune with the impact that light has on us every day?
Once I became interested in light I started noticing it everywhere. How different buildings and streets were lit at night, or different light in my home. I also become very aware of how exposed we are to large amounts of light in urban environments. My fascination with darkness in my installation work is in response to this.

What makes light important for performers and musicians?
Lighting has a huge effect on how we experience performance. Lighting design has the capacity to enhance and frame a performance by helping to pick out subtleties in the music or dramatic text. It also works to create a visual story for the performance work.

What is your process when you are designing lighting for theatre?
I spend a lot of time researching and gathering information about a new production, including collecting a large amount of visual stimulus. I use Pinterest a lot to do this; I create a new board for each project I am working on. I tend to watch quite a few films as part of the research for a new design and if there is music in the show, I also make a musical playlist.

Collaboration is a huge part of a lighting design and I normally meet with the director and and the designer a number of times throughout the process. I like to spend as much time as possible in the rehearsal room also.

Generally two weeks out from going in the the theatre I put together a lighting plan and this is where I start to think about what different looks we might want to create with light, what is the lighting arch and how we might support the story through lighting.

As a theatre lighting designer, most of my practical work (working with light) happens quite late in the process. Generally you have two or three days to hang the lights in theatre, focus them and then program all the different lighting states and work with the actors to put all the elements together.

Lighting can have a big impact on mood, whether sunlight, moonlight or room lighting. What do you think about the impact of artificial vs natural light?
I am very conscious of the psychological impact lighting can have, particularly artificial lighting. I’m interested in how different coloured lights and light sources can affect our concentration levels, our sense of comfort and our sleeping habits. In particular I’m interested in the colour rendering properties of different types of light globes.

How do you see the relationship between light and (physical) space?
Light can shape a space in many different ways. It can affect how we appreciate the size of a space and the different colours within it depending on the colour rendering. Light makes a space feel open and inviting or claustrophobic.

Do you see light in and of itself as a form or art? Or simply as an accompaniment?
I think it’s both. Many artists use light as their primary source but light is also really important in other forms of art such as painting or photography even if it isn’t the physical medium. As a lighting designer for theatre, I see lighting as the design element that works to bring other design elements of set, costume and sound together with the performers on stage.

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:

upwards and onwards

A few exciting things have been happening for this little lighting designer lately.

Firstly I recently found out that I have received an Artstart grant from Australia Council; with part of this grant I will be moving into a little office space in Langridge Design Centre as soon as I can get myself organised and find some time to move- hopefully this week.

The other exciting event  that is fast approaching is my Seedpod development with live arts organisation Punctum; the same group that made in habit. I will be going up to Castlemaine in August and September to develop  a light based installation exploring ‘fear of darkness’

Through my initial research, I have found myself  dreaming of an night sky unpolluted by excessive city lights.  So, as part of the research for the project this little city girl is getting back to nature and  trudging off into the wilderness to spend a night, alone in the bush.

At this stage, I not sure if I more frightened by the darkness or the idea of being alone all night, in the middle of on where with nothing to do.

The research will take place at Melville Caves, just outside of Bendigo, once a hideout for a local bush ranger, Captain Melville; who knows, maybe I will be lucky enough to see a ghost.  Over the next few weeks I will be busily getting ready for this little overnight adventure and will hopefully have more to report once I get back.  For the moment, here are a few pictures from my day trip to the caves last week.