You might have noticed the traffic stopping, the Instagram feeds being monopolised by a particular aesthetic of glowing in the dark this past weekend. Everybody in London knows that those are signs of the bi-annual light-fest of Lumiere London, now a recurring feat in the agenda of a Londoner. The project took over the streets of the capital this past weekend in a display bigger and better than ever before, with producers Artichoke masterfully organising a nocturnal exhibition that immersed the whole city.
We joined two of the artists attaching their names to the extensive project, Satyajit Das – founder of the award-winning Architecture Social Club, and music producer Max Cooper, discussing Aether, a powerful audio-visual work that translates emotion into light and sound, to dissect the architecture of what makes a piece align itself to the Lumiere canon, whilst remaining true to the artist’s manifesto. We discuss inspiration and experience in the context of an exhibition space of such magnitude.
What can you tell us about the inspiration behind this piece?
Satyajit: We started off by trying to find a way to create a visual language and technique that could reflect the emotional range of Max’s music. As architects and designers we knew we wanted to create something spatial. An experience you could move around.
Max Cooper: I want to make work that engages people emotionally and there’s always been a visual element to the music, making videos, projections. Satyajit is an old friend and we’ve worked together before, and we set out on a journey to build a structure that gives viewers and listeners a completely different experience.
How does the work program its aesthetic to the emotions of the viewers?
Satyajit: Our aim is always to take the viewer on a journey through different emotions. The content is intentionally abstract, so leaves a lot of room for interpretation on an emotional level. We can use simple to complex forms, colour and movement as variables to convey our narrative.
Talk to us about the evolution of the piece from concept to its final form as this rich, sensory experience.
Satyajit: Like with most design processes the piece is constantly evolving. We are always learning more and tweaking elements of the projects. The initial ideas were very different, but through testing through a iterative process it finally became the project that it is. The collaboration between music and design also pushed and pulled the project continuously to eventually take form as aether.
Max: We started out with an idea to make something to tour with, like a stage set. But as the ideas for Aether developed, it felt more appropriate that we should allow people to be drawn into it, allowing for a much more personal experience.
How does your piece fit in the wider landscape of the 2018 Lumiere London display?
S: Lumiere is an incredibly diverse landscape of artists with projects using light as a medium for artistic expression. Whilst our piece is a light piece, it was born from the realms of music and performance. So even as a light installation it still conveys a sense of performance and storytelling.
Could you describe to our readers what exhibiting Aetherat Lumiere was like and talk to us about the afterlife of the work? How did you find it was received by the public?
S: It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to exhibit at Lumiere London. The festival producers Artichoke were incredibly supportive. Placing Aether in a public space was a very special context for the piece. Of course there were many challenges to overcome, such and wind and light, but we felt it really came together. Being able to show our work to hundreds of thousands of people is a true pleasure.
The response from the public was incredibly. Most people from across all age groups would stay for the full 22 minutes of the cycle transfixed and often clapped and cheered at the end of the cycle. It was a lovely experience.
As always, the next step is to take Aether to a new place, a new context. We are always making improvements between each show and usually, no two shows will be the same. Look out for us later in 2018 when we will be touring Aether!