HSL in Lancashire, England, supplied all lighting, rigging, and staging for the acclaimed Whiteplane 2 project, a live interactive performance/art installation tour using an atmospheric mix of ambisonic sound and architectural lighting, created by experimental artists Alex Bradley and Charles Poulet.
Whiteplane 2 immerses its audience between two horizontal planes of light, one coming up from below and one coming down from the ceiling above.
The floor and ceiling each contain 30 JTE PixelLine LED fixtures, chosen as one of the few types of lighting that could be made into a smooth and even floor of light and walked over for 12 hours a day while emitting virtually no heat.
The audience enters the space and sits, stands, or lies between the two planes of light, which change color and intensity as the piece unfolds. The participants all undergo very different sensory responses, emotions, and thoughts as they imbibe the waves of lighting and sound. The multilayered physical experience is completed by the ‘walls’ of sound coming in from the sides, immersing everyone in tonal sweeps of color and sonic waves.
The first 35 minutes of Whiteplane 2 is an improvised live show, an eclectic, moody, meandering soundscape produced by Bradley and Poulet each running laptops, standing at opposite edges of the work. After this, the whole space turns into an installation piece in which people can experience and enjoy the sounds, colors and feelings at their leisure for as long as they wish.
Bradley and Poulet have used conventional lighting in many of their previous works, but this was their first time with LED.
They were originally put into contact with HSL by Chris Ewington, inventor of the Pixel range of products and guru of the LED lighting industry, as they needed a technical partner to help make the show tourable.
HSL’s Ian Stevens managed the project, “It’s been hugely satisfying working on something totally different like this, and with people as inventive, interesting and inspiring as Alex and Charles. They look at lighting, sound and technical elements in a completely different dimension.”
The floor is made up from 8x4 Steeldeck frames covered with a special Perspex mesh. The PixelLines sit below this, on a floor area covered with Lee silvered gel.
The top plane is made from standard rear projection screen, stretched taught with bungies on a frame constructed from A-type trussing, suspended by four 1 tonne Lodestar motors. A Tomcat 1 truss bridging system over the top of the A-type is used to support the PixelLines that shine down through the screen material from the top plane. This was a collaborative design by HSL’s Head of Rigging Rupert Reynolds Charles Poulet and Alex Bradley.
The PixelLines are run DMX through an Expression lighting console. The HSL team also supplied motors and flew the d&b line array PA from Orbital with another four ½ ton Lodestars.
The biggest practical challenge, recalls Stevens, has been rigging and flying the installation in some venues and gallery spaces that are clearly not used to having work installed in this way.