After a small week-long break, I am back at the controls, ready to welcome in a new year. It's been a crazy decade, hasn't it? I got my start in lighting about 3 years before the new millennium started – now we're a new decade in and I am still proud and thrilled to be a part of our industry. I hope you are proud too – we're pioneering folks, us lighting people!
I'm up to my eyeballs in it this morning, so I have a special treat for you on the first day back from all of your bye-bye-2009 debauchery. Aron Altmark from the League of Lighting Twitter Folk (that organization doesn't exist, I just made it up), in all of his guerrilla lighting glory has created some light art that I wanted to show everyone.. I asked him to write a guest post on the work. So – Aron, take it away!
Laser Graffiti – Aron Altmark
My inspiration for the laser graffiti project came from the Graffiti Research Labs L.A.S.E.R. Tag website. Theo, the creator of the software, has been working on this for several years now over in Europe, but I haven’t seen anything like it done in the United States recently. My setup consists of a 3000 Lumen projector (anything above 2500 lumens will work, but depending on the size of the projection and ambient light, more is always better), a 30mW green laser pointer (found on Amazon for ~$30), a decent video camera (used both a Canon 3CCD GL2 and Canon Optura), and a laptop to interface with (I use a Macbook Pro, Windows works too—use Theo’s Graffiti Research Labs L.A.S.E.R. Tag software). The camera needs to be able to have manual controls, as auto-focus will mess you up big time. The biggest consideration for any laser graffiti setup is power: I have a 250-ft heavy-gauge extension cord with an APC that connects everything up. A generator is preferable for portability, but being able to find outdoor power is a great skill to have. Also, it’s good to have someone who knows OpenFrameworks (Thanks to Ryan Wilkinson for help with software issues!).
For me, I think the appeal of the Laser Graffiti project lies in its purity. I am currently a freelance lighting designer in Orlando and am always looking for ways to further our art. Projects like this one, where the participants are more “light artists” than anything else, are truly beautiful to me. Doing art for art’s sake, and putting a piece of art out there for anyone to see, is something we don’t always get to do with traditional theatre. The L.A.S.E.R. Tag project in Vienna became a social and political forum for people to showcase their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on a massive scale—and that is really what drives me to draw inspiration from what they have done and put it in my back yard. Already, I have plans to take this setup on the campus of a university, and to use it as another form of expression for the students and faculty there. This is a method of self-expression and artistic freedom that doesn’t harm anyone or anything, is fairly environmentally friendly, completely erasable, and can be showcased wherever there is a surface, a power source, and people to participate.
Stay tuned for more from me in the coming weeks, and please feel free to contact me with questions or comments: on Twitter (@aronaltmark) or by e-mail (email@example.com)
Big thanks to Jim and JimOnLight.com for taking an interest in my work. Best blog on the net!
Thanks for writing that, Aron! Check out Aron's images from that night: