Photos by Matthew Cummer
Imagine you are in an art gallery but all the lights are turned off. You are immersed in lights and sound, absorbing different aspects of the audio-visual gallery. That is the best way to describe Atmospheric Studies II: Singularity.
The one-hour light and sound show is the second in the Atmospheric Studies series that began last March. This year more shows are lined up, with two to three shows a day from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21. On Jan. 17 and Jan. 18, the shows will be held at New Vision United Church while the Jan. 19 to Jan. 21 shows will be held at the Main Event Space of the Cotton Factory.
Sheridan College alumni Matt Cummer, Nick Grimshaw and Bea Macapagal, alongside their respective companies, Black Lake, Walker/Grimshaw and Camp 905, are the architects of the installation.
Cummer, who works in stage visuals, and Grimshaw, a composer, collaborated to create the project last year. After attending last year’s show, Macapagal reached out to the duo and became involved in this year’s logistics and visual planning.
Cummer took inspiration from the Day for Night Festival in Houston, TX. The festival, which takes place in an old industrial postal sorting facility, has digital installations spread throughout the space that participants can check out. Cummer was also inspired by the work he does in stage visuals.
“[W]henever you go to see a concert you have all these huge lighting fixtures on stage and that’s the context you see it in and it’s just complimenting the band but… I always had an interest in taking that out of context and using it in a totally different way and then… marrying it with audio and making it kind of more come to life as its own thing rather than just complimenting something else,” explained Cummer.
From this desire to make lights and sound come to life comes the name Atmospheric Studies. The project is creating its own contained atmosphere for attendees throughout the duration of the one-hour show.
The other part of the name, Singularity, refers to a black hole, a feature of the storyline being woven throughout the show. The lights will be arranged in a circular fashion and take attendees through the creation of fusion that goes out of control and creates a black hole.
These digital renderings depict the room design for Atmospheric Studies I and II. This year the one-hour light and sound performance will include live responsiveness of the light to the music as attendees are immersed in an audio-visual gallery.
This abstract plotline is a departure from last year’s project which was a more straightforward display. Introducing a story to the show is one of the ways in which Atmospheric Studies has grown from last year, in addition to introducing a new venue in the New Vision United Church and putting on more shows. The best aspects of the first installation will be preserved, such as the live responsiveness of the light to the music.
“One aspect of the show is that we take every little audio cue live that [Grimshaw is] playing and we input it into the visual system… [which] drives lights to do things right at that moment as well …[W]e try to make it very organic and feel like this is more special…[T]his isn’t something you’re ever going to experience again which is a once in a lifetime sort of thing,” explained Cummer.
Putting on the installation has been a learning experience for Cummer. As a film school graduate, he didn’t have experience in production design, lighting design or lighting operation. However, he has put his skills from his film background into good use for the design of this project. Last year’s project brought on some stress and hiccups but it was met with a positive response which ultimately led to the led to the continuation of the Atmospheric Studies.
If all goes well with this series of shows, Cummer would love to have a third part of the series. He would also love to expand the concept to be more music-oriented, perhaps with musical acts. No matter what the future holds, this installation is sure to take attendees into another world.
Atmospheric Studies II: Singularity will take place from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21 and tickets can be purchased on eventbrite for $10 or at the door for $15.