Julien Bayle, sound and visual artist, talks to Future of Light (Part 2)

 

Last week Future of Light was lucky enough to talk to sound and visual artist Julien Bayle about his relationship with light. As you might imagine, Julien is a man of many exciting ideas that haven’t yet been put into action. Read part two of our interview to find out more!

Are there any current developments in light that you hope to use within your work in the future?

I have 2 particular ideas in mind.

The first one is about a very big ceiling with square LED panels all over. I’d use it for a live performance or maybe an installation. I’d use some process of generation to control both the ceiling as a whole but also each individual panel: generating waves of light, related to the sound and with a spatialization of sound at the same time. I’d use it as a big screen at some moments, and as a series of elements at some others.

The second one is almost directly focused on the OneSpace Ceiling solution by Philips. I’d like to install one on each wall and on the ceiling of a big room and control them with a computer running an installation and producing sounds too.

This would be a very immersive experience into my minimalistic aesthetic, consider I could only change the brightness of each wall + ceiling related to the sound circulation (rotation probably) in the space. I have already talked about this project with some big locations. I just hope that it could be done!

These 2 projects will allow me to explore more of the pure light aspect of my work.

Besides these, I have started to draw some sketches for an installation involving video projectors. This would display very minimalistic visuals like black & white bands moving and combining with other bands; the display would evolve using real-time data grabbed from the internet as its source, but using this data by removing its original meaning and using it only for its random character. This installation could be named ‘random.bands’, but I’m not sure. Why am I talking about that here when we are focusing on lighting? The reason is simple: I’d like to make a VERY BIG display on a big ceiling within a space like a museum, big gallery or hall. The very minimalistic character of this installation’s visuals will ultimately look like big lights moving. These bands will be like virtual lights moving: sometimes very slowly, changing the atmosphere progressively; and sometimes very fast, looking like stroboscopic effects.

What are your favorite examples of futuristic lighting?

 

One thing I discovered recently is lighting without a ‘proper’ light. I mean, without a properly visible light source. Actually, one example of that is (again) the OneSpace Luminous ceiling solution. This is just like a ceiling able to [be] bright. I’d like to see the same solution for walls; maybe we could install this system on walls, too.

Something also very interesting is textiles, and very flexible screens. As an artist, I think this is really amazing matter for working very differently. These flexible elements provide a new way of thinking about light. Indeed, light can then be anywhere: over walls and in our own clothes for instance. I’d like to use them to make objects glowing around while performing. A whole scene of curtains like that could also react to the sound. This is a very exciting topic.

I’m really interested, also, by lasers - but are they very futuristic? I have already sketched a multi-laser installation involving lasers, lighting and [a] computer vision-based capture system. The installation would generate dots, shapes on objects and physical structures in the place. The webcams would analyze the position of these points in the space. Of course, the points lighting specific objects present in that specific space, the installation would react differently depending on people being in the space or not, if the object is present or not. That could be a nice interactive installation piece where the interface between humans and the system would just be the light.

What do you hope will become possible with light in the future?

 

I’d like to be able to easily control big buildings and big monument lights, just by plugging in my own laptop. It would be really interesting to see artists playing with The Eiffel Tower, for instance, but without adding anything - just by plugging into an interface. That would inspire me to build algorithms to play with the polarity concept between the top and bottom, or to further explore the chaos vs. order work I started with my installation ‘entropy.chaos’.

If there were absolutely no limits in how light and sound could interact, what would you hope to achieve?

 

Following these hypotheses, I’d have a whole city reacting to sound in each of its streets. The streets themselves would be able to listen to the sound locally. A system - sometimes local, sometimes global (operating over whole streets, whole quarters) - would be able to collect the complete data of the sound analyzed and use this data to control each light in each street, in each quarter. This would help people to feel the sound much more tangibly, as they actually often do. At night, when a vehicle would go all along a street, the street would be lit up progressively, and a ray of light would follow the vehicle, showing to others where the sound is louder, for instance.  Alternatively, near to night clubs, with people shouting and having fun in the street, the light all around the venue would be brighter and more red, for instance, because of the centroid of the audio spectrum there. The idea of a big grid of controllable lights linked and controlled by a grid of microphones would be amazing.

Actually, I also have an idea for a sound/light installation that would be easier to do, and more at human scale.

Controlling a whole ceiling with a very high resolution and high data rate of control would be amazing. That would contribute to my work around the tangible character of the sound. I can imagine a whole ceiling of LEDs controlled like that. It could also be a generative installation, continuously changing the atmosphere depending on some specific and external parameters: for example temperature, noisiness of a crowd (e.g. the fact it is moving in disarray, or in a more organized way), or the current activity of the building’s datacenter. I love to grab values, to use datasets as raw data, even by losing the original meaning of these values!

 

Where do you see the future of light going – both within art in general, and within your own personal line of work?

 

I think light will run away from screens. Today, a lot of artists only consider video projection. I myself consider video projection as a very nice way of working and of expression, but I’m convinced we have to go further. Screens only display pixel maps popped out from our computer and actually, I need more. I want to be able to control each cell, each part of these big matrices of LEDs, independently; lighting them with generative algorithms instead of sending a basic video picture to them.

I also mean that I’d like to consider them not as a matrix of pixels, but as a whole lighting organism with properties, able to react both locally and globally, including its own sensors, able to integrate the whole and massive data sets into a distributed calculator-based grid of computers.

We artists, sometimes by having some crazy ideas, will be able to collaborate with scientists with a bunch of applications by trying to push the limits of our current minds. This is what I am trying to do currently with the Acoustic & Mechanic Laboratory here in France, CNRS-LMA, for all the signal processing and sound parts of my next works.

In case you missed it, read part 1 of our chat with Julien here.
Take a look at some of Julien’s work on his website . You can also follow his Facebook page for direct updates .

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