BUILDING IRIS: The Life of IRIS

IRIS –  an digital art installation examining the spatial perceptual & interaction opportunities of robotically manipulated laser arrays, is now just a couple of days away from premiering here at The Lowry.

In May 2014 the Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) and Interactive Architecture Lab (IAL), came together in an intensive workshop to develop an experimental robotic rig for choreographing the orientation of a circular array of 30 lasers. The resulting prototype demonstrated compelling perceptions of volume and space from light alone, experientially distinct from work that employs light from a single projection source such as Anthony McCall’s “Line Describing a Cone”.

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The circular rig developed for the first prototype was programmed as an automaton and the results of the workshop was a 3 minute repeating performance. The results of this workshop suggested a great deal of promise for future development. IAL + MLF have since been looking for an opportunity to push the next stage of R&D – including adding interactivity and exploring a range of spatial organizations that would allow for further forms of geometry (e.g. Helicoid, Hartenstein and Moebius bands). What started almost 3 years ago is now slowly coming to its final stage and ready to be presented to an audience.

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Last week we were witnessing final preparations and assembly of now 40 laser modules which will create the final shape of IRIS. The designers and The Lowry’s digital art programmer met earlier this week for last tuning and arrangements which took place at the Interactive Architecture Lab at University College London. At the meeting we were able to see final design arrangements which show slightly different formation of laser modules than the one of the initial prototype. What affected the change is the space itself.

Digital art programmer Lucy Dusgate explained that this is the first time The Lowry has commissioned artists to respond to a particular space in the theatre, thus the whole design felt more of a mutual exploration. Mike Jones, senior producer of Marshmallow Laser Feast pointed out that this is the biggest space where the company exhibited their art work so far, making it very exciting and challenging for them. The Lowry’s vast 1,700-seat Lyric theatre black space will host this visual sculpture which transcends the space and creates different spatial volumes.

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We are almost at the end now, and all the bits and pieces are coming into place and into sink. Next week we will be following the installation live happening in Manchester and reporting on the spot. From where we stand IRIS looks fantastic and we cannot wait for you to see and experience it from 26 May onwards!

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You can find out more about IRIS here.

 

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