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Rock ‘n’ roll meets art on Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle

Rock ‘n’ roll meets art on Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle

Rock ‘n’ roll meets art on Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle

New Zealand:

New-Zealand based lighting designer Rachel Marlow of Filament Eleven 11 recently created an immersive lighting design for Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle, a production staged over four days at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber. The design drew heavily on Robe’s MMX spots, WashBeams and T1 profile.

The production was part of the Auckland Live Fringe Town aspect of the city’s annual Fringe Festival event, an independent and popular open-access arts festival which took place earlier in the year. Marlow used the venue’s lighting equipment which includes Robe MMX Spots, WashBeams and T1 Profiles to help realise the piece, which was commissioned by Auckland Live programmer, Anders Falstie-Jensen.

Rachel Marlow and Bradleu Gledhill
Rachel Marlow and Bradleu Gledhill

Collaborating with Marlow was Bradley Gledhill, who assisted in the design, rigging, lighting programming and timecoding; Thomas Press, who produced the special 20-minute soundtrack; and dramaturg Benjamin Henson with whom both Marlow and Gledhill have worked on previous projects. The lighting design included the notion of creating an art installation using what are essentially rock ‘n’ roll moving lights, plus a few custom elements, and this was one of the key provocations.

The performance area was beneath a box truss in the centre of the room. The four MMX Spots and eight MMX WashBeams were rigged on this, with the single T1 Profile on-loan from Jands NZ positioned right in the centre of the box. Auckland Live was so impressed with the T1’s output that it subsequently purchased a new batch of five T1 fixtures.

One major factor in the design was the room, which usually hosts seated musical and theatrical performances but had to work spatially for Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle. As it turned out people – audiences were limited to 20 per show – stood all around the space and moved as the journey evolved and propelled them through the experience.

The T1 Profile was selected for the centre luminaire as Marlow needed a powerful light source with framing shutters to keep it in a tight space, as well a fixture with a wide range of looks, colours and effects for that central role. T1 and MMX effects included rapid shutter cut chases that gave the impression of movement and fluidity around the space as the light mimicked the audio image during certain parts.

Having these fixtures available, “definitely helped facilitate the ideas I wanted to achieve,” explained Marlow. “The T1 is a fabulous light to control and it especially had a lot of impact during the louder and more intense moments towards the end.”

At the heart of the installation suspended from the truss were three “pixel clusters”, each comprising multiple lightbulb-shaped housings with a single LED tangled together by a spaghetti-knot of transparent cords, a bespoke item made by Marlow. They caught and refracted the light, adding depth and dimension to the space, as well as providing a focal point for the eye. Custom LED strips with Perspex covering hung on catenaries from the truss were also specially made by Marlow and Gledhill and these echoed the shape of the room and the square of the trussing.

Two projectors rigged on the trussing and pointing vertically downwards were used to project subtle abstract moving images onto the floorspace immediately below the box. All of the lights were programmed on one of the venue’s grandMA2 consoles and ran to timecode for the four evenings of the show.

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