GLP solution for Detroit art extravaganza
Thursday, 21 March 2019
glp-detroitMirage Detroit has transformed the 100-year-old Savings Bank in Detroit
USA - Production lighting designer Andi Watson recently undertook one of his most challenging projects thanks to a collaboration with LA-based mixed-media artist Doug Aitken.
Conceived by Doug Aitken Workshop, the mirrored art installation, Mirage Detroit, has transformed the 100-year-old Savings Bank in Detroit into a mesmerising adventure for visitors, due in part to the judicious use of customised GLP fixtures, which are used exclusively to light the space.
The LD says the collaboration came about largely by chance. “I had been working on another project in Detroit with the Library Street Collective team who were in the early stages of putting together Mirage Detroit with Doug. Several things fell into place and Anthony and JJ from LSC suggested to Doug that he and I should talk about the lighting component of the piece.”
The concept, in which the 70,000sq.ft Silvers Building was transformed into a kaleidoscopic world of reflective mirrors, fomented over several months and via numerous conference calls. “Doug sent me detailed drawings and renders of how the piece was going to look in the space and we discussed how the lighting would be used to bring both buildings to life.”
Both collaborators agreed that only white light would be used in the installation. Watson explains: “To me, light is the medium and the language with which the Silvers Building and Mirage communicate. I wanted that communication to be as pure as possible and not affected by a subjective colour choice.”
However, this presented a conundrum as there was nothing on the market that would satisfy the colour requirement and deliver the combination of power and control. With time running out GLP stepped in. Watson explains: “At the time I was putting the design together for Mirage Detroit I was on tour with Radiohead. I had quite a lot of GLP X4L (large LED moving heads) and X4 Bars in the rig and I had completely fallen in love with them.
“The combination of rich, saturated colours a clean white, really good optics and pixel level control enabled me to create both beautifully lit scenes and gorgeous modulated effects. Everything was perfect about the fixture for Mirage Detroit except the colours. I explained this to Mark [Ravenhill] and he amazingly said that GLP could fabricate custom cold white/warm white versions of the X4 Bar, X4 L and X4 XL.”
Everything is controlled from a grandMA2 and the lighting installation is built from variable sets of cues that segue together. “We are using the functionality of the console to switch everything on and off and run various cue sequences depending upon the time and exact date.”
The sources needed to be as discreet as possible, and the fixtures, other than the X4 XL’s, that backlit the arched windows on the second floor of the building, were sensitively made to blend into the fabric of the building.
In terms of deployment and functionality the X4 Bars were used to uplight the marble columns, light Mirage directly or act as down/cross lighting for the pebble floor. The X4 L’s were used to backlight the second-floor arched windows and were also used in the corners of the room where there are ‘L’ shaped columns. The giant pan-head X4 XLs were used with to downlight from the ceiling of the Silver’s building, either with a narrow beam directly through Mirage’s chimney or with a wider beam to reflect light and colour from the pitched roof of Mirage back up onto the ceiling.
Finally the tiny X4 atoms were used for an improvisational performance by Jónsi of Sigur Ros on the opening night and subsequently to discreetly light the inside of the bank safe.
Other than the GLP fixtures, the remainder of the equipment was supplied by John Bahnick from Upstaging, including control, cabling and custom metal and woodwork.
(Jim Evans)

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