While several artists of the Raster label performed on the main stage accompanied by TouchDesigner-driven live generative visuals from Stanislav Glazov and David Leroy, fog rose from the neighbouring Jorge-Semprun Platz where curator Max Schreiner had brought together three different light installations. An analogue light cube by Christian Scheibe, the kinetic light installation "Linie" by Stefan Kraus, Stephan von Tresckow and Gregor Sauer and the laser sculpture "Punkt" by Daniel Dalfovo. "Linie" and "Punkt" were planned, prototyped and live-controlled with TouchDesigner.
It was a monumental night of light, fog and atmosphere in this fabled, historic venue and we spoke to the artists to learn more about their works, influences and experiences putting on this memorable event.
LINIE | STEFAN KRAUS, Stephan von Tresckow and Gregor Sauer
Stefan Kraus: When curator Max Schreiner approached us to create an installation for the opening of the new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar, it was obvious that the gesture had to be big - the place is one of the biggest empty areas in the city - yet sensible as the place has a dark past. Right in the middle of an architectural ensemble that what was supposed to become the blueprint for a regional government campus, the place is empty and closed to public to remember that it has been abused for demonstrations of power during the Third Reich. The ambivalent location is right between the new Bauhaus and the old "Neues Museum" which also was opening with a new exhibition.
After some discussion we found a simple but appropriate answer to the sheer dimension on the one hand and to the Bauhaus on the other hand. The 'Line', as the simplest connection between points, a symbol of direction, connectivity but also separation as a graphic intervention in the structure of the city. A line made up of thousands of dots. A line that can separate into 10 independent bodies of light, move in choreographic formations and reunite. The line as a coordinate system on which single points can travel and a catalyst for color, materializing in thin air.
While Gregor Sauer and Stephan von Tresckow teamed up to address the more physical aspects of the production - how to make a 5 meter line of light hover in thin air on a budget - I built a virtual version the project in TouchDesigner. The tripods for the light lines were constructed from massive steel, while the lines themselves were extremely light carbon rod onto which the led strips were mounted. Each line could rotate about 180° around their centre driven by Artnet controlled electro motors.
It was the first time for me to work with Artnet on a bigger scale, so I wanted to be sure I did the right thing. By building a single fixture in TouchDesigner as a 3D model and then replicating it, I could test many different approaches to create pixel and motion content for the installation before writing the final authoring tools to create the show.
The virtual fixture could be addressed with Artnet, just like the real live version would be. So by the time we had to set the installation up on location I already had it running as a simulation on my computer and it was simple a matter of plugging things together the right way to take control of the real structure.
TouchDesigner was not only used to create an Artnet-driven realtime simulation of the project, but also to create a whole suite of tools to create, perform and record movement and pixel animation for the installation.
PUNKT | DANIEL DALFOVO
The installation 'Punkt' from Daniel Dalfovo creates spatial compositions drawn with light. Laser is used as formable substance, like an element that you can connect or overlap with one another, something that can create feelable volumes. The visitors find themselves in an ever-changing structure, whose form builds an architectural lightscape.
For Wassily Kandinsky a 'point' is the primal element, it is the result of the collision of the tool and the surface. The moment of collision is described as the fertilization of the surface. A very interesting aspect when remembering that the location of the artwork was untouched before.
In this project I was more interested in the surfaces and volumes that a laser creates, rather than using single beams or concentrating on the shape the laser draws onto a wall. So I wanted to change my approach in generating these outputs. From my experience with kinetic sculptures and using TOPs to create 3D spaces I tried to create my laser content purely with TOPs rather than going the usual route of SOPs and CHOPs.
I immediately felt how different the outcomes would be when using lasers to recreate 2D landscapes. It resulted in these 'laserscapes' - almost like throwing a deformed blanket over the whole square.
Over 1km of ethernet cable was distributed across the historically-loaded site in Weimar, connecting the six LaserAnimation Sollinger (LAS) BLIZZARD lasers located on the six balconies looking over the square. All data was sent out with one CHOP and one USB cable.
The main difference to usual laser setups is the usage of the more powerful AVB protocol (Audio-Video-Bridging). Each laser gets fed by 5 channels (x,y,red,yellow,cyan) at 96kHz generated with the laser CHOP. So a total of 30 channels with each 1600 samples per frame at 60 fps is sent out via a single Audio Out CHOP to a LAS USB2AVB interface. From there the data can be distribute like any other network protocol with switches and ethernet cables.