Large format projection specialists E\T\C Audiovisuel supplied 16 PIGI 6kW DDRA Xenon projectors and two Pigi S700 projectors to the 2003 Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights), December 5-8 in Lyon, France.

Equipment from Paris-based E\T\C, pioneers of large-format scrolling projection equipment and techniques, was used in three sites across the city during its famous four-day lighting festival.

The popular Fête des Lumières--a rich fusion of colors, urban ambience, architecture, and technical innovation--has been taking place for over 150 years. Each year the event gets more ambitious, featuring work from a myriad of international contemporary artists and innovators, all working in different ways with the dramatic and versatile medium of light.

This year’s Fête des Lumières theme was ‘Light in motion: dynamic light, interactive light’.

Zone d’ombres by Skertzò at the Place des Terreaux

Staged in Lyon’s imposing central square, the Place des Terreaux, flanked by the Hôtel de Ville and the Musée des Beaux Arts, Skertzò (renowned for their work with light and projections) created their fabulous Zone d’ombres (Theatre of shadows) show.

This centrepiece show of the festival used 16 PIGI DDRA (automatic rotating double scroller) projectors and four live mime artists, performing to a specially composed sound track by Patrick Abrial.

The live performers were positioned on platforms in front of specific projectors, creating shadows and interacting with the projections being beamed onto the building fascias. Projections were aimed at three surfaces surrounding the Place des Terreaux. The main horizontal surface was the 120m long by 25m high building of the Musée des Beaux Arts, and the two side surfaces were 50m long by 25m high.

The 15-minute show featured life as expressed by the animated man-and machine-made shadows and images projected onto the buildings. The shifting audiences also played their own role in the show, dwarfed by the imposing projections. Subject matter varied from the surreal to the real to the hallucinogenic. Provocative and interesting, the show had strong intellectual foundations, and utilized ancient techniques from the magic lantern theatres, applied in a modern context.

Many months of meticulous research went into compiling and designing the artwork by creators Hélène Richard and Jean-Michel Quesne, who as Skertzò are one of France’s best known light and projection artists.

Controlled by ETC’s Onlycue software, triggered by timecode from the audio, the show was on continuous loop, running from 5pm to 1am for the four nights of the festival.

Le Veillée des Anges

The innovative Thienot Hladiy Workshop’s Vigil of the Angels was one of the more offbeat shows of the festival. This improvisational performance, staged on a barge, featured two Pigi S700 4kW HMI double scroller projectors beaming images onto the river banks and various buildings as it travelled up and down Lyon’s two rivers--the Rhône and the Saône.

The work was devised by painter Emeric Thienot and the late Georges Hladiy, who pioneered the art of projection using etched images. Sadly, Hladiy died a month before the festival, but his son Mickaël, working alongside Thienot, ensured that Hladiy’s work was enjoyed by festival goers, and together they will continue his legacy.

The two Pigi S700 projectors were rigged in the stern of the boat in weatherproof housings and hooked up to generator power. The film scrolls contained two contrasting artwork elements--images of angels, birds, and human figures scratched directly onto the film by a scalpel, plus a series of photographs of Thienot’s paintings.

In the bow of the boat was a Robert Juliat followspot, complete with Hladiy hand-etched glass gobos which were also beamed around. They maximized their unique locations to create interplay between the lighting and the water. Images of angels appeared out of nowhere, creating a moving story and revealing to the townspeople that the angles are watching over them.

Casa Magica: Tissage Automatique

The charismatic Saint-Jean Cathedral was the setting for German-based visual artists Casa Magica’s projected creation, Tissage Automatique, which was inspired by the process of weaving, and of silk and textile manufacture for which Lyon is known.

Using a PIGI 6kW Xenon projector with double rotating scroller, a PIGI Single Scroller with a Pani 6K and a Cameleon moving light projector, they produced many types of textures of fabrics, woven together with the "loom of light" illuminating the cathedral façade.

The full image was 45m high and 35m wide in portrait format, and the projectors were located in a building 65m across the square from the church. The PIGI equipment, supplied by E\T\C’s Austrian distributor Rezac High Power Projection, was controlled by Onlycue software, triggered by timecode from the soundtrack.

The research and design element of the project took roughly three months. Artwork was widely based on images from Lyon, such as architecture, industry, and local icons.

The 2003 Fête des Lumières featured dozens of exhibits and was enjoyed by over 1,000,000 people, generating enormous interest in the town and again highlighting the inspirational and creative possibilities of applying lighting in many different scenarios.

“It was a great pleasure for us to participate in one of the world’s greatest festivals that places lighting and technology at the forefront of urban life”, says Patrice Bouqueniaux, E\T\C Audiovisuel’s sales & marketing director.