10 Mar Featured: Beaming Installations and Glowing Sculptures by Lumen Concepts
Directly after school creative entrepreneur Fabian Humphry started a laser show business which introduced him to the idea of using light in unusual ways. Just two years later, at age 21, he owns and runs Lumen Concepts, a Cape Town based visual agency that uses light in some of these unconventional ways to create installations and sculptures. Working in collaboration with artists like The Grrrl, SpoOky and Fiance Knowles, Lumen Concepts have done projection mapping, live visuals, LED installations and hybrid media pieces for ads, films, festivals, art galleries and more.
We asked Fabian about their high-tech pieces, the creative process behind them and the relationship between technical and design in their work.
What are some of the technical and creative skills needed to do what you do?
All the projects I work on require a delicate balance between creativity and practicality. One needs to be able to come up with wild ideas, and then work out how to execute them. Technical knowledge is required to shape ideas to fit within certain constraints, yet at the same time remain true to the visual goal you have set out to achieve. If it’s never been done (which is generally the case with my work) then there are no examples to learn from and there is no one to call if things go wrong. This requires fast learning and quick thinking, and to top it all off you are under time pressure to deliver a perfect result.
Please take us through your process.
Visualising an idea and replicating it on paper or virtual 3D space is only the first step. I believe in examples, so let’s look at the hologram dance we worked on in collaboration with local dance company Darkroom Contemporary. The dance choreographer, Louise Coetzer, explained to me that they were exploring themes of walls as dividing mechanisms and the spaces between them. She wanted to do something different and exciting. This was the brief.
I started to think about how we could get creative with lighting and accurately represent the underlying themes. I visualised how it should look with the dancers and involved an ever-changing set with solid shapes and lines moving in and out of reality. This was the creative idea. Then came the technical challenge – I had to adapt the idea to fit within certain constraints like angles, weight, cabling, mounting overhead, programming and so on. I had to learn quickly, adapt to the equipment available and ensure that at the end of the day we had a stunning show that was true to the original idea.
Holograms for Darkroom Contemporary’s ‘Blueprint Dance Show 2014’ at Cape Town City Hall.
What are some of the projects you’ve enjoyed working on most?
I really enjoyed creating a 3D light sculpture for a secret party which was featured in a TV commercial. The installation was set up within an abandoned cement factory in the suburb of Phillipi, Cape Town. The client had a vague idea of what they wanted but left most of the design process up to us. We used mirrors to bounce light around and created a maze-like sculpture hovering in mid-air. When the film crew arrived, dancers proceeded to move in and out of the sculpture we had created while the, now very excited, director was filming.
3D Light Sculpture for Nescafe ‘My Inspirations’ TVC.
Your work is a mix between technology and design. Are there any challenges when working this way, particularly in South Africa but also in the industry in general?
Definitely. The biggest challenge with the work I do is that it’s not really a classifiable area. It ticks so many boxes, yet at the same time is radically different to anything else. This may sound like a blessing but when you offer creative services, equipment, consulting, project management and design it becomes difficult to market yourself as you are not industry- or service specific. When I tell people I am a lighting designer they will often put me into an identifiable industry and quite rightly so. “Wow, so what bands do you do lighting for” or “maybe you can install some lights in my lounge”.
Who and what inspires your work at the moment?
There are amazing digital works and light installations coming out of Europe at the moment which really inspire me to bring some of the same elements to South Africa. AntiVJ is a visual label in based in Paris who create the most incredible visual installations. 1024 Architecture is probably my biggest inspiration, they are definitely worth checking out.
Keep up with Fabian’s work at lumenconcepts.co.za.
Projection Mapping on Church Square as part of Open City during the March 2015 edition of First Thursdays.