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Leonardo, Vol. 13, pp. 307-309. Pergamon Press, 1980. Printed in Great Britain. WAVEFRONTS THEATRE OF PERFORMING LIGHTS: ON LIGHT SHOWS WITH MUSIC AND DANCE Louis M. Brill* 1. The Theatre of Performing Lights at San Francisco, California, is an organization involved in (1) educational and artistic projects on the use of lasers and holography , (2) multimedia techniques employed in kinetic light/sound productions, (3) light shows with theatrical performers, (4) interior architectural decorative applications and (5) scenic backgrounds for theatrical productions . In this Note, I shall discuss only light shows with music and dance performances, with particular reference to visual displays produced by projected electric light and laser beams correlated with music and dance movements. This type of production requires those skilled in electronics, stage design, music, costume design and dance. The light-show part includes the design of circuits for miniature electric spotlights, dimmers to produce patterns, a scanning laser projector and a double-dissolve slide projector to produce images. The music is specially composed and is produced by both traditional instruments and a synthesizer . 2. Electric light patterns are varied by dimming beams and by changing their size and shape, by reflecting them from distorted mirrored surfaces and by transmission through transparent materials that are colored. These patterns are combined with the images provided by the scanning laser projector and the double-dissolve slide projector, and this visual display is accompanied by music and a spoken narrative provided by sound tapes. The patterns and images fade, dissolve, blend and overlap each other. The intensity of sound provided by the tapes controls automatically images produced by the scanning laser projector. The concept of the Theatre for this type of production is special in that a light show is integrated with music and a dance performance, accompanied by a recorded spoken narrative to aid an audience to better understand the overall intentions of the show, which might be called a 'performing-lights operetta'. The visual displays are enhanced by the movements of dancers and mimes. Their movements are correlated with the music and visual displays. The visual displays, consisting of images provided by the scanning laser projector and of patterns provided by the electric light beams, serve much like a stage backdrop that, however , does not limit the dancers' performing space. The colors and shapes of the patterns may be changed by a "Kinetic artist, Wavefronts, Box 31252, San Francisco, CA 94131, U.S.A. (Received 9 Oct. 1979) 307 manual rheostat control. Two superimposed patterns produced by beams from two electric light projectors are shown in Fig. 1. Figure 2 shows a variant of a backdrop that consists of an image showing a multiple reflection of a dancer. The dancers wear costumes consisting of stretch fabrics that envelope their bodies and serve as 'dancing screens' that intercept the beams producing the visual display (Fig. 3, color plate). An advantage of the 'dancing screens' is that no costume changes are required , since one costume serves as many in the varied conditions of illumination. 3. Although the electric light and laser beams are essential, we regard the music and narration as of paramount importance. For the music we rely on our resident musician, Douglas McKechnie, a specialist in Fig. 1. Superimposed images produced by two different light projectors. (Photo: Bill Kaunitz, Foreign Embassy Productions , San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A.) 308 Wavefronts Theatre ofPerforming Lights: Fig. 2. An image showing a multiple reflection used as a background. (Photo: Bill Kaunitz, Foreign Embassy Productions , San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A.) the use of Moog synthesizers. His compositions are well suited for our shows because, although 'ethereal' in character, they have strong rhythmic characteristics for controlling the response of the scanning laser projector and guiding the movements of the dancers. His music includes, for example, sounds of wind storms, of chirping crickets and of a rocket take-off, and these are musically embellished in an attempt to give an audience the feeling of being present where the sounds were produced. The scanning laser projector has a series of electronic and electro-mechanical elements to cause it to respond to the intensity of sound produced by the tapes. The laser unit (5 mW...


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