Color scroller manufacturer Wybron and lighting equipment supplier Fourth Phase teamed up with the production department of the Spoleto Festival USA to provide lighting for the Morris Island Lighthouse during the festival's run this past spring in Charleston, SC. The lighting of the abandoned lighthouse was the brainchild of artist Kim Sooja for her installation, A Lighthouse Woman. The team that brought it to life included lighting designer Steve Shelley and a production team lead by Kevin Fisher.
One of six installations for Spoleto's The Memory of Water visual arts exhibition, A Lighthouse Woman was realized in cooperation with members of Save the Light, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to save and preserve the Morris Island Lighthouse. Built in 1876, the lighthouse has been ravaged by nature and man; it now stands in solitary fashion in the waters of Charleston harbor, a reminder of the time when maritime commerce was the community's lifeblood. Using a variety of colorful looks, the lighthouse was transformed into a memorial commemorating the enduring relationship of the building to the sea.
Equipping the location was challenging, with the lack of electricity making the importation of a generator the top priority. Once power was available, Shelley and personnel from the festival worked closely with Wybron and Fourth Phase to design a system that would endure the rugged atmosphere of the sea. The wash of light on the building was achieved by the use of eight Altman outdoor PAR units, equipped with water-resistant Wybron CXI Mariner color changers. The team then developed a program that operated the equipment on a timer, turning each unit on and off in a specific sequence.
Shelley says, “Wybron's Dave Mayne was invaluable. He wrote the sequencing program that enabled the CXI Mariner color-mixing system to work as one unit, flooding the lighthouse with the right color at the right time.”
The result was an eerie and arresting reminder of the lonely but crucial role that the lighthouse played in bringing ships and their passengers home from the cruel sea.