Light Cycles is an immersive light and sound installation currently on show at the Illuminate Adelaide Festival, and extended ’til 14 August. The installation is created by Moment Factory, a Canadian multimedia studio specialising in the conception and production of immersive environments. Since its inception in 2001, Moment Factory has created more than 500 unique projects worldwide, including the Lumina Night Walk series. Productions span the globe and include such clients as Changi Airport, Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Disney, Arcade Fire, Microsoft, Sony, Boston Museum of Science, Madonna, Cipriani, Universal Studios, the Toronto Zoo and the Reims Cathedral. We had a chat to Mathieu Grainger of Moment Factory about Light Cycles at Illuminate Adelaide.
You made your Australian debut with Light Cycles in Adelaide last July and are bringing the experience back this Australian Winter. Are you coming to Australia for the install?
Several of Moment Factory’s team members have made the trip to Adelaide for the install of Light Cycles, including the technical director, lead motion designer, musical director, as well as our Creative Director and Producer. As our team generally work nights during the installation, we also have a team supporting from Montreal.
Light Cycles is said to be “grounded in the exploration of the human relationship to nature”. How is that so?
Inspired by the scientific principles of natural phenomena, our approach uses light and projection to amplify nature, in turn creating an immersive, illuminating experience.
The experience draws inspiration from the beauty and energy of nature, embodied by the garden itself.
Drawing from nature’s secret rhythms and its ability to communicate in unique ways, music plays an integral role in uniting the site, evoking a sense of natural energy and light travelling across the garden.
What can Adelaide audiences expect from Light Cycles?
Visitors will walk across the Botanic Garden Pathway, engaging with a unique sensory experience made of seven immersive installations that encourage them to connect with the site and the experience in various ways.
Who is Light Cycles for?
Light Cycles is designed for the entire family; children and adults will experience and connect with the enhanced natural environment in various ways that inspire a renewed appreciation and fresh perspective on nature.
Do you prefer working for artists/doing work in public spaces in terms of the freedom of creativity?
Our motto is We Do It In Public. In fact, the public really is what’s most important for us, no matter the canvas.
Our multimedia, immersive experiences pioneer forms of entertainment that offer them new forms of entertainment. Whether at a concert, in a public garden or across an urban square, we aim to inspire a sense of collective wonder and connection.
What has been your career highlight?
Gabriel Pontbriand: As a lighting designer, I worked for years in clubs, arenas and theatres. Then roughly 10 years ago, Moment Factory was approached to work on an outdoor illumination project in a beautiful provincial park in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Our team was immediately inspired by this natural environment that presented us with a very rich canvas on which to work. Within a few months, we had created our first ever enchanted multimedia night walk, a project aptly named, Foresta Lumina. This was a defining moment for me as lighting designer and creative director, as it instantly shifted my perspective on how we can create these massive experiences in beautiful natural settings. We have since created 15 similar experiences around the world!
Mathieu: Similarly to Gabriel, I too spent most of my career producing and filming festivals, shows and events in what I now consider to be more “traditional” environments. In 2013-2014, a few years before I joined Moment Factory, I was approached by Bik Van der Pol, an artist duo from Rotterdam, who challenged me to work with them to reinvent the rock tour. What came from this exploration was a one-day event where hundreds of guests were loaded onto tour buses to visit remote, hidden stages installed in forests and natural canvases throughout the city. What ensued was an all-day concert that featured 11 bands presented on 11 swatches of land where it was the guests and not the artists that were on tour. This reinvention of form, forever altered the way in which I approach producing experiences. Once I started working with Moment Factory a few years later, and was given the opportunity to continue pushing the boundaries, I quickly found myself working in a team of creators who, much like I, find great satisfaction in creating experiences in highly unlikely places!
What would be your dream space to transform with your experiences?
We are ever searching for that ancient forest, with trees that touch the sky, rivers and creeks that nourish the forest floor and natural landmarks, that have been chiselled through time into the rock below us. We are looking for character forests, places so magical that simply lighting it with a flashlight in the night would stir wonder…please…if you know of such a place, reach out to us!
What is your creative process? Do you create the show around the space?
Our process is integrated; from ideation to execution, our departments specialized in content, environment, and systems design are led by a powerhouse team of project managers and producers who guide the process. Moment Factory is a one-stop shop for experiences that thrill, surprise, and amaze audiences.
Light Cycles brings together a mix of concepts that were custom-created for the site and adapted from experiences in Moment Factory’s repertoire, such as the award-winning North Forest Lights at The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and our Lumina Night Walk series, and was designed with four new custom installations to emphasize the lush canvas of the Botanical Garden.
How long does it take to create an installation like Light Cycles from conception to install?
From ideation, to conception, to production to integration and to opening, it took about 8 months. As the pandemic happened, in the meantime, we worked mostly remotely during the production and integration phases. Light Cycles was made possible through close collaboration with the festival’s team and Moment Factory’s Forest Lab, a test site with a lake in the Quebec woods. Innovative use of 3D scans, aerial photography, and virtual technology, allowed our teams to design multimedia features with precision and seamlessly map them onto Adelaide Botanic Gardens groves and landscapes.
What are the challenges in putting on a show in a public space? Does winter weather pose any challenges (Australian winter being far less severe than a Canadian one but still frost and rain)
You are correct, the winter in Australia is far more tamed than our Canadian winters, but what often marks this season is the unpredictability of it all. Using technology outdoors can be challenging. It’s integral to our process that the installations are conceived to withstand all weather conditions and merge seamlessly within the natural environment.
What newer technologies are you working with or hoping to work with in the future?
We’re always interested in testing and prototyping new technologies, but it’s not about the tools we use, it’s about how we use them that keeps our work so interesting. Much of the testing of new technologies happens at our Forest Lab, a quaint piece of land 2 hours outside of Montréal where there is a very wide variety of trees, hills, lakes, rivers and a climate that presents us with the full seasonality Canada has to offer. From +35 degrees Celsius in the summer to -35 degrees Celsius in the winter, our experiences and technologies are continuously evolving in this environment to give our creative teams the diversity of tools required to stir emotions through our experiences.
After Adelaide, what and where are your next projects?
Our 15th Lumina Night Walk and first in the United States will open fall 2022.
AURA, an immersive experience at the Invalides in Paris will open in the upcoming year.
We also collaborate with music artists such as Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, 5 Seconds of Summer, Halsey, The Killers, Arcade Fire, Conan Gray…
We thank Mathieu Grainger and Gabriel Pontbriand from Moment Factory for this interview.
KEY INFO FOR LIGHT CYCLES
WHAT: Light Cycles, an immersive installation that is part of the Illuminate Adelaide festival
WHERE: Adelaide Botanic Gardens
WHEN: Tuesday to Sunday from 5:30pm until 14 August (sessions every 15 minutes)
HOW: Buy your tickets through this link: https://www.illuminateadelaide.com/program/season-2022/light-cycles/
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices are as follows:
- General Admission – $40.00
- Group (4 or more people) – $38.00 per person (click + to book for more than 4 people)
- Children under 4 are free, but a $0.00 ticket is required for entry.
A 2% merchant service charge applies. No concessions apply to this event.