ACTLD Celebrates 25 Years with Light Art Installation

Creative Director and Lighting Designer, Koert Vermeulen wanted to do something extra special to celebrate 25 years of his innovative Belgian-based creative design practice ACTLD, so he and his team crafted a fluid and mesmeric large scale spectacle of lighting art – A2C5T – which was presented to the public for three weeks at the See U event space in Brussels.

The 45,000 sq m former police barracks provided an atmospheric backdrop for this multi-level light art experience, which was inspired by the core tenets at the heart of ACT – Art, Concept and Technology. Within the installation, these three values were represented by three beautifully abstract intersecting works of creative lighting, carefully curated by Vermeulen to offer a different but equally compelling immersive experience for guests. The three elements could be enjoyed individually or as one, or as a user-definable mix of several different components.

Complete with a special soundtrack compiled by Solemn Eye / 70 Hills Music / Marco Macaluso, visitors could lose themselves in the ephemeral magic of light, colour, texture, and other visual effects. The central piece was “technology”, and this was created using 36 Robe Spikies, 20 SilverScans and 16 T1 Profiles.

While the emphasis was on the technology, this was delivered as a sculpted work of art. The 20 SilverScans were rigged at one edge of the installation space on a scaffolding frame flown from the ceiling, arranged four wide and five deep – while the Spikies stood on a series of low wooden plinths stood in front of and around the centre of the space.

Both these fixtures were chosen for their speed and rapid movement and the Spikies specifically for their continuous rotation. “It was vital that the lights – the technology – came alive and essentially became ‘actors’ in this key piece,” explained Vermeulen, adding that the Spikes were ideal with their small size “resembling little robots.”

For the many children who visited with their families – the installation took place just before the Covid-19 lockdown – the Spikies were at a similar height! They became transfixed by the lights which stood there almost incidentally, begging the smaller members of the audience to become their friends. “It’s a very cute fixture,” said Vermeulen, “and in this context, people were sometimes drawn more to the physical shape and form of the lights themselves than the luminescence they produced.

The T1s were used to architecturally light the general room space, together with 42 Anolis Divine fixtures – a mix of black light (UV) and RGBW units. 10 of the UVs were used outside the building, and Koert comments that when they stage A2C5T outdoors, the intention is to use T1s extensively to light trees and other surrounding foliage.

A person standing in right in front of Technology could see Art at 120 degrees and Concept at 210°, so the triumvirate of artworks also had a harmony and a unity. “We wanted to create a sense of expectation and curiosity,” said Vermeulen, “almost teasing people and daring them to come back to further explore!”

Lighting for all three artworks was programmed and run on an MA Lighting grandMA2, with a SMODE media sever also triggered via the grandMA which dealt with the 3D pixel mapping elements in Art and Concept.

Concept was an expression of colour, inspired by the work of James Turrell; strong, bold and simplistic, comprising a series of solid screens in ascending size bathed in wash light, while Art was made up from multiple LED pixel tubes creating outlined shapes that appeared to be suspended in thin air. This featured more elaborate scenography for viewers, but the physical appearance was raw and stripped back to boost ideas of form, architecture and a heightened sense of negative spaces.

Content Director, Lucia do Souto; Technical Director, Luc De Climmer; Concept Artist Taddéus Fraylich and Lighting Programmer, Christopher Bolton made up the team. A2C5T sponsors in Brussels comprised Robe, EPIX, FACE and PRG. While Astral Lasers, SMODE, Lux Lumen and SGM supported the technical aspects of the project.