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Woods – Structured landscape of responsive light by Nocte

Created by Nocte, a collaborative between Andrea Cuius-Boscarello and Hannelore Leisek, Woods is a responsive light installation commissioned by artistic director Heather Eddington of State of Flux DanceFilm Company for their Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Awards 2013 finalist performance A Study of Who.

By using different lighting setups and dispositions for each consecutively revealed element, every  scene of the choreography is accentuated in its various settings. The installation, comprising 30 unique handmade redwood anglepoise lamps with classic tungsten lightbulbs, is eventually emerging from the ground building a structured landscape of responsiveness and light, taking the spectator through the emotional and physical journey of the performer’s flowing display of grief.

The degree of the hanging light bulbs and the crossed placing of the lamps in a curved position, directing the visual impression of the scenery, create an interplay between light and shade. The sequenced installation building the setting and following the motion of the story is providing a consistent spatial response for the viewer.

The installation is controlled by a custom software developed with Cinder. It implements the effects to both pre-visualise the show on screen and output the DMX signal that controls the lamps. The system is designed with two connected computers using OSC. The main machine is a generic engine that executes custom effects. The other machine typically uses Ableton Live to pre-sequence and perform the show. In addition they are using a Max4Live module, designed by Henrik Ekeus, to analyse the audio in real time and send it back the FFT using OSC.

Some of the effects are actually audio responsive; one effect connects each lamp to a specific frequency. Another effect utilizes the FFT to draw abstract outlines and trigger the lamps enclosed in its shape. The Ableton Live session view, transport and controls are reflected in their software and are used to trigger effects, tweak parameters and control the other elements of the show. For each effect they developed individual Max4Live modules to add custom parameters and presets.

To eventually make a different use of the space, each effect has got its own behaviour. Some of those effects were specifically created on-site to enable us to assimilate them better within the venue. Others are based on sound and again others on 3D objects moving within the space to ultimately trigger the lights.

The teams workflow additionally relied on 3D softwares like Cinema 4D which they used to sketch ideas, finalise designs and to export data for the custom software to reconstruct the scene. It is also used as a reference and to export other objects used by the effects.

Part of the code team developed is also available on Github: Ableton Live Cinder blockDMX Usb Pro Cinder blockAbleton Live OSX phyton script

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