The Winston-Salem Lighting Project 2008 will debut at 6:30 P.M. on Thursday, November 13th at the historic Millennium Building on the corner of Fifth and Trade in downtown Winston-Salem. This public light art show will run continuously from 6:30 P.M. - 11:00 P.M. through Saturday, November 15.
Thirty-eight UNC School of the Arts students in groups of six—composed both of lead designers and electrical engineers acting as assistants—have joined together under the direction of award winning and internationally renowned lighting designers Paul Gregory of Focus Lighting in New York (www.focuslighting.com) and Jonathan Speirs of Speirs and Major Associates in Edinburgh and London (www.samassociates.com). The light shows will cycle every 30 minutes, during which each group of student designers will have five minutes to project imagery. The dynamic cycles will constantly change and evoke the imagery of the chosen artist in the medium of light via projected color and image.
The lead designers and the artists incorporated into their projects are: Brad Peterson: Dan Flavin and local glass artist John Kuhn; Michael Kohler: Peter Max; Paola Rodriguez: Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh; Sean Beach: Sjer Jacobs and Genie Maples; Alex Fogel: Marc Chagall; Samuel Rushen: Barnett Newman and Mary Capan.
This project, which has been in the planning stage for over a year, represents the first time that any college or university has undertaken a lighting project of this magnitude. Several hundred thousand dollars worth of lighting equipment has been brought to the project including nearly 200 LED blasts and remote DMX controls to enable the students to do such large-scale outdoor lighting with many veils of color and hue.
Norman Coates, who directs the lighting department at UNC, said, " This is an excellent finishing step in the educational process for these students. In preparing young designers, great effort is extended in getting them to see the world in as many possible ways and translating art into architecture is a unique mode to accomplish that end. To be stressed: never has anything like this been done on the university level before. The students have been working nearly 24 hour days.”
Paul Gregory, with Focus Lighting, has designed lighting for projects as varied as the New Year’s Eve ball (and just yesterday released the design for this 101st upcoming New Year’s Eve ball drop), Dylan’s Candy Bar, FAO Schwarz, Mohegan Casino, Atlantis Dubai - The Palm and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Of the conception of the project, Mr. Gregory remarked, “The idea of using the Millennium Center as a canvas for light paintings is really central to this project. Our work is based on the Marcus Center of the Performing Arts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is a building I did that opened on April 16, 2008, where I use the inspiration of Georgia O’Keeffe to create 16 light paintings onto the building. Here at the Millennium Center in North Carolina, we are using 12 artists as the inspiration for the students’ work. The students have been working pretty much straight through since last Saturday, when the 350 lighting fixtures, three lighting consoles, thousands of feet of cable, generators and so forth, showed up to illuminate the building.”
Jonathan Speirs of Speirs and Major Associates, counts among portfolio the lighting of the London Millennium Bridge and the Burj Dubai Hotel, and currently the lighting of the new Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Botanical Gardens in Singapore. Mr. Speirs, who considers himself a light architect, commented, “The opportunity this offers would be to consider having an annual series of workshops where a few of the buildings around the city can be illuminated to create art walks where lighting and creativity are the driving forces. This has been done very successfully in Alingsas, a small town near Gothenburg, Sweden. Initially, they thought about having permanent lighting similar to the Millennium Center project. However, they were persuaded to maintain it as an annual five-week festival event and, due to this, the amount of people that visit Alingsas every year is phenomenal. This event has become a “must see” on the calendar and put Alingsas on the map, profiting the local community in many ways. People come because it is there for only a specific period of time, and that has more resonance and power than having something that is permanent. This speaks about creativity, speaks about effort, and it is a good thing.”
On Friday from 2:00-5:00 P.M. Jonathan Speirs and Paul Gregory will be giving an architectural lighting seminar at the Proscenium Thrust Theatre, Performance Place on the campus of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, 1533 South Main Street, Winston-Salem.
The genesis of this project came from the suggestion of Philip Hanes, art patron, philanthropist and member of the UNC School of the Arts Board of Visitors, over a year ago to Suzanne and Gilbert Mathews, fellow board members and the owners of Lucifer Lighting Company in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Haynes asked “Why don’t you do a special project for Winston-Salem and the School and light something at a special event.” From that point Suzanne Mathews contacted Paul Gregory and Jonathan Speirs who graciously agreed to intricately work on this world class project with the students. Gregory and Speirs have been conducting master classes and Brad Peterson, a senior, has spent the past few months as an intern in Paul Gregory’s office learning the intricacies that he would need to implement the project. The Winston-Salem Lighting Project has been sponsored by Lucifer Lighting Company.
The Millennium Building, located at 101 West Fifth Street, was constructed in 1914 as a federal building to house the local main post office and courthouse. The neo-classical architect Oscar Wenderoth designed the stone clad block long building, currently owned by Greg Carlyle, to have the presence of a Washington, DC federal building. Its front façade, which will be the focus of the light show, is comprised of a series of columns ending on either end with a flat plinth. This design works well for the project, where most students have chosen to use the end pieces for image projection and the columned portion for light projection.