Collectif Scale will present its Ammonite installation at Illuminate Adelaide in an Australian exclusive

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Collectif Scale is a collective of 12 friends, who produce music and light installations together. One of their first and most sought-after installations is called Ammonite, and it’s this installation that’s coming to the Illuminate Adelaide festival next month as an Australian exclusive. We talk to Joachim Olaya, one of the founders of Collectif Scale. Read our interview with him below.

Ammonite by Collectif Scale

I read on your website that you’re a bunch of friends who are passionate about what you do, and wanted to get off the beaten track. Mixing know-how in their spare time. How did you meet and what did you do professionally during the day before founding the Collectif Scale?

When we say it’s a group of friends, that’s really what it is. In other words, the founding members of Scale, including myself, met at school when we were 18. We studied the same subjects. And after our studies, we went to work in different networks and fields. I went to work in music and live performance. My colleague, the other founding member of Scale, went to work moreso in the world of motion design, dubbing and video.


We remained close friends and a few years after our studies, we decided to found the Scale collective simply because our primary objective was to have fun working in the world of visuals and lighting for stage shows and music concerts in particular. To use all of the experience we’d learnt from working before, and during, the creation of the Scale collective, because there were quite a few of us working.


When you come from the world of audio-visual production, when you’re used to working on stage, and so on, all that has given us a lot of experience and a lot of know-how in several areas. And the idea was to pool all that experience and know-how. The idea of Scale was to use the know-how of several people in very different fields: motion design, engineering, mechanics – even dance, because I used to work a lot in the world of dance, live performance, and so on. And we used all these skills in the same place and under the same name, Scale.


13 years ago, it was quite a novel idea, because people who were working on visuals for the stage, concert halls or live performance venues didn’t all have that kind of experience. We were trying to do something a bit new. Then, the starting point was really to work on the world of visuals for the stage. And then we developed many more artistic projects, for stand-alone installations as well as for exhibitions with my own music, with more original designs and so on. In other words, after video, we really developed our skills in lighting, architecture, design and also robotics.


Collectif Scale has been together for 13 years now. Having gone to school together, I suppose you’re all the same age?

No, because there are now three generations working with Scale. The old-timers, of whom I’m one, are five of the same generation, i.e. around 40. And over the last few years, we’ve welcomed a much younger generation into Scale. So today our youngest is 20. The idea is to pass everything we’ve learnt over 13 years through our work on to a younger generation. So, there are several generations rubbing shoulders, but it’s still a very family atmosphere and operation.

Ammonite de Collectif Scale

Tell me a bit about the Ammonite project.

We use the word installation – not too much a work – we prefer the word installation, it’s more hybrid. Ammonite is really Scale’s most emblematic installation because it’s the oldest we can show at the moment. It was created in 2017 and it’s still being shown all over Europe and the world, so it’s the most emblematic because it’s the one that’s been seen the most, the one that’s been shown the most on stage and in exhibitions, and it’s the one that certainly defines us the best.


The set-up is relatively simple. It’s a light design that’s animated and written to music. So the technical set-up is very simple. But the relevance of Ammonite is that the design is very powerful and the writing of the light is extremely precise. We spend an enormous amount of time programming and writing the light, as if it were a living object.


In fact, when people look at Ammonite, they no longer see a luminous work, they see an object that tells a story. It’s really our aim to tell a story using just one medium: light. And the second medium, of course, is music. In almost all cases, our work is built around music. It’s even the music that generally controls the lighting. In other words, firstly, we work on the music and then we program the lighting around the music. One of the ideas is to really be able to tell a story with light alone.


If it tells a story, does Ammonite have a message?

No, we don’t like to convey too many messages because we’re not that kind of artist. There are a certain number of artists who have a message, who have a discourse, who have things they really want to convey to the public. We don’t think like that. Instead of playing with stories, we try to provide emotion and it’s the people who tell themselves their own stories.


There are a lot of artists who draw a lot of their inspiration from a theme, from something, over a period of years. That’s not our approach at all. Our approach is to produce something that will be sensitive enough to arouse great emotion in the audience; people are free to understand what they want to understand. The important thing is that when they’ve finished watching Ammonite they’ll know that it’s moved them.


Ammonite, which we’re presenting in Adelaide, has music that isn’t by Collectif Scale; we’re collaborating with other artists. There will be several pieces of music presented, several shows in fact. And it’s with two different composers: an electronic music composer called Chloé, who is French, and a piano composer and pianist called Rami Khalifé, who is Lebanese.

Does Ammonite always feature the same pianist playing with you?

No, Ammonite has been performed in many different versions, sometimes with music by Collectif Scale, sometimes with music by Rami, sometimes with music by Chloé, other times with music by other pianists. In any case, in Adelaide we’re presenting it with music by Chloé and Rami Khalifé.


The approach is not to convey any message, it’s to provide emotion. And the project we’re presenting in Adelaide, we’ve been presenting all winter in Europe because we did an exhibition in Europe and it’s the same project we’re presenting.


People are able to stay extremely attentive for 15 minutes, and some even watch the show twice in a row because they’re so interested. People watch Ammonite like they watch a film. Some people have even cried in front of it, for example. That’s our greatest success. So someone can cry in front of it or smile. And that’s our greatest success.


So it’s very emotional.

This version of Ammonite is a bit less so than our other installations. But yes, the music by Rami Khalifé on the piano, for example, we chose a piece of music that I produced with him, which is very melancholy. If the music is beautiful and well played, and if the lighting complements the music well, something will happen.


Will the music be played live or recorded?

No, it’s recorded, it’s like a soundtrack because we’re proposing the project in its exhibition format, a light exhibition installation. But obviously, we’ve already done some live concerts with them in other configurations.

What is an ammonite? | Natural History Museum
And why the name Ammonite?

All the installations at Collectif Scale are often found in nature, even though we’re a collective that produces highly technological installations. In general, when we’re looking for new designs, we draw more inspiration from nature rather than from other artists or from things produced by man. We like to think that the source of inspiration comes from an extremely natural form.


And so Ammonite is simply this crustacean, this prehistoric shell that is one of the first living beings on the planet, with its highly mathematical shapes. With this shell, you’d almost think it was designed by an architect, but no, it’s nature itself that is capable of designing these kinds of shapes and objects in a purely natural state. And that’s what inspires us so much. So we were really inspired by the shape of this shell called Ammonite. That’s all there is to it.

The Flux installation from Collectif Scale

I saw that you have another installation called Flux that looks a bit like Ammonite.

In fact, Flux is Ammonite‘s little sister in the sense that it’s the same concept, except that the LED bars are motorised. So we’ve introduced robotics – in other words, in addition to the movement of light, we’ve added real physical and kinetic movement. So in terms of the possibilities, the effects of writing and rendering – we can go much further than Ammonite because quite simply the object moves physically. In Ammonite, the object doesn’t physically move, only the light does.


And then there’s Nautilus. It’s a bit like Ammonite but larger?

Yes, exactly. That’s why it’s called Nautilus. It’s very easy to understand. Nautilus is the prehistoric seashell. Ammonite and Nautilus were made almost at the same time. Nautilus is really the large format of Ammonite.


But in the end, people prefer Ammonite. That’s what’s surprising. We made Ammonite and then, a year later, we created Nautilus, which is even bigger. And people prefer Ammonite. That’s why we stopped presenting Nautilus.


It was a fluke, really. But this Ammonite design is so precise and so effective to look at. It’s as if you’re no longer seeing the LED bars, you’re actually seeing an object. That’s certainly what makes the installation such a success. As for Nautilus, it’s perhaps the design that’s been a little less successful, so it’s all very nice and everything. It’s a bit like a stroke of luck in our business. It’s true that there are things that work well and things that don’t work so well.

The Nautilus installation by Collectif Scale


How long does it take to create an installation like Ammonite?

An installation generally takes a year to create. It’s usually a year’s work because the idea takes the longest. Ammonite used LED light bars, that’s the technical part. It’s easy too. Let’s say it takes two months to build the installation. But in fact, for our designer, it’s the object that can sometimes take the longest to be really sure, et cetera, before building it.


Then there’s the programming. The first time we did Ammonite, it took a year of work. We have created a lot of installations – not all of which can be seen on our website. There are a lot of things we don’t show these days. After 13 years’ experience, we’re getting faster and faster because we know what we want to see, we know how to do it more quickly, we know what we don’t want to see, we know what we don’t want to do.


But in general, it’s not just the time it takes because you also have to finance it. We must never forget that, money. Our installations cost a lot of money – all this equipment is very expensive. Even more so when there are motors and robots. We have to be able to finance these projects, so it takes time to find the money and work out how much it’s going to cost. Can we finance this installation? Is it too expensive? Because there are so many parameters involved.


Some installations may take even longer, particularly the next one we want to do, which we’ve been working on for two years. It’s called Quercus, and it’s also a kinetic installation. We’ve already been working on it for two years because we’re having technical problems, we’re having trouble solving certain technical engineering problems. We can’t do engineering every day because we also have to come to Adelaide and there are other projects, et cetera. But to make a good installation, it takes at least a year.


Who is Ammonite for? For everyone, I think.

That’s an extremely important question, because we’re absolutely determined that all our installations should be open to the public. When I say all audiences, I mean from the age of four or five. That’s really important. We’ve always worked that way because most of us are family people. I have two children, and so on. We love working for children. I know what a great audience they are.


We always work on the principle that if a child has fun and experiences something with the installations, an adult will too. For our last exhibition, for example, our sole objective was to be able to welcome children from the age of five all the way up to their grandparents, and to appeal to everyone. So, whether we can reach a 5 year old or a 70 year old, it’s extremely important because we do everything we can to achieve it. In fact, all this is really one of our main areas of work.

Ammonite de Collectif Scale
Ammonite from Collectif Scale


You said that you look for inspiration for your installations in nature. Where do the ideas for your installations come from in the first place? Is it from dreams, is it from looking at things in nature?

It’s hard to say, because often we’re talking about a final image of the object we’d like to see. Often, when we make an installation, a new idea emerges at the end. Because you say “we’ve done that, that’s good. But if we did this now”. We try to never do the same thing again, obviously. There are two axes: there’s the artistic work, and there’s also the technical work. That’s Scale’s speciality.


That’s why we’re real artists and fake artists at the same time. In other words, what interests us just as much is the art, the work of art and the artistic rendition. But it’s also about the technology. We try to work with new technologies every time. So, there’s this idea of trying to imagine a beautiful final image, a beautiful design object that makes use of one or more new technologies that we make our own, that we are able to control in our own way and divert in our own way. That’s how we often build an installation.


There’s no philosophical or reflective approach, which is a form of self-criticism in a way. A lot of artists go to some lengths to reflect on their work, but this isn’t the case at all. And we’re completely aware of that, which means that the important thing is the result. We think first and foremost about the result, about the shape of the object and its effectiveness, and therefore about the emotion and the stories it can tell, rather than about the substance of the project. For us, form is much more important than substance. Whereas there are artists who think first and foremost about the substance of the message, of the proposal, and the result can be secondary.


So there you have it, I think there are two types of artist, two types of school, two types of families of artists. And we think first and foremost about the result, the effectiveness of the result. That’s why our projects and, above all, our poetry, are going to pay off.


When you started your studies at the age of 18 or so, did you know that you wanted to work with light? And what did you study?

Not at all. In fact, it’s like I was saying, at Scale, some of us did the same basic studies. But the 12 members of Scale today went to completely different schools and studied completely different subjects. That’s the whole point of Scale, because no one at Scale really has the same profile, because otherwise it’s all the same and we wouldn’t be able to produce the things that we do.


So for me, for example, I studied image, video, motion design and above all sound and music because I’m also a music producer. So, I have a strong link with music and music writing. I work a lot in the performing arts, in theatre, in dance and in all those areas. So knowing how to tell stories with music, with gestures, with words and images. Other colleagues of mine really come from computer coding, for example, or 100% software development.


So the idea is to make the most of everyone’s skills and specialities. We get around a table and then we’re able to produce projects, especially like Flux, which requires a huge amount of technical skills as well as artistic ones. Moving a bar of LEDs on a motor is easy, really. But making it move in an extremely poetic, elegant way, to give the impression that it’s a living, organic object that moves, also requires skills in the right place and certain languages linked to the writing of the show.


In the studies, no [I didn’t do any lighting], the lighting work came after Scale started, because we really started Scale with video and image. That’s because at Scale our primary skill is video, motion design and so on. That’s where the light comes in, and then the kinetics and the motorisation words and the robots came in even later.

Ammonite Collectif Scale
Ammonite by Collectif Scale

Why should people come and see Ammonite at Illuminate Adelaide this July?

I’m sure that if people come and see it, they’ll experience something. We’ve shown it so many times that I’m sure of that. People shouldn’t come to see a video installation. People have to come to have an experience, like taking part in a little show. They shouldn’t come to see a bunch of LED bars and light displays.


We’re certain, because we’ve had so much feedback from the public, that by using the simple medium of LEDs and light, we have this idea of providing emotions and a story, which isn’t the case for everyone, and I think people should come to experience something a bit like a show. I’m sure that people will be convinced by that.


Thank you very much for the chat and I look forward to attending Ammonite next month!

We thank Joachim Olaya from Collectif Scale for this interview.



WHAT: The Ammonite installation by Collectif Scale at Illuminate Adelaide

WHEN: from 6pm to 11pm from 7 to 23 July 2023

WHERE: Queens Theatre, Playhouse Ln & Gilles Arcade

HOW: Just turn up – it’s free and there are no bookings required

HOW MUCH: It’s free!

INFO: You can consult the Illuminate Adelaide program here


For more installations and artists from France and the French-speaking world who will be at the Illuminate Adelaide festival, click here.



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This Winter, Francophone artists will Illuminate Adelaide 2023

Reading Time: 6 minutes

From the end of June and through July will see Adelaide lit up with various light installations as part of the Illuminate Adelaide 2023 program. It will also see the return of pop-up club-night over two nights for Unsound Club. Canada’s Moment Factory return for its third year and other Francophone artists also join the program this year. Read on to find out more about them and their installations coming to Illuminate Adelaide 2023.


Moment Factory

Since the festival’s inauguration in 2021, Canadian Moment Factory has lit up the Botanic Gardens (read our interview with them about that here) with Light Cycles. Moment Factory is returning in 2023 with two shows not seen before in Adelaide: Mirror Mirror and Resonate. They are also Artists in Residence for Illuminate Adelaide 2023

Mirror Mirror / Miroir Miroir Moment Factory Illuminate Adelaide 2023

Mirror Mirror

An Australian-first experience fresh from its premiere run in Montreal, Mirror Mirror is a playground of interactive technology inviting you to discover your own creativity.


Sharing a unique experience with everyone who enters, this series of immersive digital installations spanning from the forest of yourself to a reimagined hall of mirrors is specifically designed to awaken your consciousness with the latest cutting-edge interactive technology.


Inside the revamped and remodelled Illuminate Pavilion at its latest home in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga, Mirror Mirror is a multi-room experience changing with every audience interaction.


Whether sharing your memories to pen digital poems, transforming your words into dazzling light displays, sending ripples through a river of time with your movements or simply marvelling at the possibilities that await inside, Mirror Mirror promises to ignite the sense of play and discovery in visitors of all ages.


Which journey will you choose?

WHERE: Illuminate Pavillion, Victoria Square, Tartanyangga

WHEN: 28 June – 30 July (except Mondays). Sessions available every 15 minutes.

Tuesdays – Thursdays 10am – 7pm

Fridays – Saturdays  10am – 9pm

Sundays 10am – 7pm

  • HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary depending on the session chosen:
  • General Admission (Tuesday – Thursday, and until 5pm Friday) $39
  • General Admission (from 5pm Friday and all-day Saturday and Sunday) $49.00
  • Group (4 or more people) (Tuesday – Thursday, and until 5pm Friday) $36.00
  • Group (4 or more people) (from 5pm Friday and all-day Saturday and Sunday) $46 per person
  • Children four years and under are free for all sessions but a $0.00 ticket is required for entry.

A merchant service fee of 2% applies to all ticket purchases

HOW: Purchase your ticket via this link

Moment Factory Light Cycles Illuminate Adelaide
Moment Factory transformed the Adelaide Botanic Gardens with Light Cycles in 2021 and 2022.



Moment Factory again transform the Adelaide Botanic Garden with this awe-inspiring new after-dark experience.


Beginning from the Gardens’ North Terrace gates and pushing technical innovation even further, Resonate promises to captivate by highlighting nature itself – brighter, bolder and more immersive than ever.


With six all-new installations along a brand-new night-time trail through the garden’s grounds, Moment Factory once again invite us to resonate deeply with our environment through their spectacular signature mix of light, technology and original soundscapes.

WHEN: 29 June – 30 July (except Mondays)

Sessions available every 15 minutes

Tuesdays – Thursdays 6pm onwards

Fridays – Sundays 5:30pm onwards (except 28 July when it will be open from 6pm)

WHERE: Adelaide Botanic Garden

HOW: Purchase your tickets via this link:


Ticket prices are as follows:

  • General Admission $42.00
  • Groups 4+: $40.00 per person
  • 4 years and under: FREE – however a $0.00 ticket is required for entry

A 2% merchant service fee applies to each transaction.


Collectif Scale Ammonite Illuminate Adelaide 2023

Collectif Scale

As part of the free City Lights program, Adelaide’s Queens Theatre will be transformed by Paris based Collectif Scale, who are bringing their Ammonite installation to Illuminate Adelaide 2023. The Collectif Scale is a team of 10 passionate friends who don’t define themselves as Artists but come from more technical educational and professional backgrounds and describe themselves as having a cable and soldering iron culture.


Ammonite is made up of kinetic visual light structure that is fully responsive to music. It was initially created by Collectif Scale in Brussels in 2017. It’s been used in music videos, and on stages around the world and we’re lucky enough to have it coming to Adelaide for Illuminate Adelaide 2023.


An immersive experience combining light, music, and movement, Ammonite must be seen to be believed creating an unforgettable, entrancing spectacle of everchanging strobe, patterns, and forms.

WHERE: Queens Theatre, Playhouse Ln & Gilles Arcade

WHEN: 7 – 23 July 6pm to 11pm



Unsound Adelaide celebrates its 10th year in 2023 and now falls within the Illuminate Adelaide program. They are bringing back their pop-up nightspot named Unsound Club to The Lab on Light Square. The two nights of this club are curated by both the Illuminate Adelaide and Unsound Adelaide teams and they have invited artists hailing from Mali, and with Lebanese, and Ghanian-Filipina backgrounds to name just a few.


Unsound Club Night #1

WHERE: The Lab @ Light, 63 Light Square, ADELAIDE

WHEN: Unsound Club Night #1, 14 July, 11:45pm – 5am

HOW: Purchase your tickets via this link

HOW MUCH: $50 for standing General Admission tickets when purchased online, or $60 on the door. Or if you’re keen to experience Unsound Club over both nights it is on (different line-up each night), you can buy a 2 night pass for $80.

A 2% merchant service fee is applied to all online purchases.



Blending global sounds that are urgent and forward-thinking, Naarm-based DJ C.FRIM has a singular, confident, boundary-pushing vision. Drawing from her experience in the Ghanaian-Filipina diaspora, C.FRIM’s musical style is eclectic and hybridised, collapsing walls between cultural silos and never skipping a beat.


You can get an idea of what to expect via the clip below:


DJ Diaki

Direct from Mali, DJ Diaki is Diaki Kone, a balani show DJ and radio animator in Sanakoroba, Mali. One of the originators of Balani Show sound system sound, DJ Diaki plays in the style of Balani mix with high energy balafon samples, crashing drums, and live remixes that he calls Balani Fou (Crazy Balani). He is a Nyege Nyege affiliate (a collective in Kampala, Uganda that promotes outsider music, primarily electronic, by African artists).


You can get a feel for his sets in the clip below:


Unsound Club Night #2

WHERE: The Lab @ Light, 63 Light Square, ADELAIDE

WHEN: DJ Plead plays on Unsound Club Night #2, 15 July, 11:45pm – 5am

HOW: Purchase your tickets via this link

HOW MUCH: $50 for standing General Admission tickets when purchased online, or $60 on the door. Or if you’re keen to experience Unsound Club over both nights it is on (different line-up each night), you can buy a 2 night pass for $80.

A 2% merchant service fee is applied to all online purchases.


DJ Plead

Playing at night two of Unsound Club is DJ Plead, a Melbourne/Naarm-based producer who draws on his Lebanese background to create tough, percussive, functional tracks.


His unique style references the rhythms, scales, and timbres of Lebanese pop and traditional Lebanese wedding music, blending them with contemporary RnB, club, and other dance styles.


DJ Plead released his debut EP Get in Circle through air max 97’s DECISIONS label in March 2018, and has since toured Europe and China. DJ Plead is also half of drum-workout duo Poison, a member of high-energy trio BV, and founder of the SUMAC label.


Check our his set from Boiler Room Festival 2019 here:



WHAT: Illuminate Adelaide 2023

WHERE: Various locations across Adelaide

WHEN: 28 June – 30 July 2023

HOW: View the full Illuminate Adelaide program here or click on the links above to purchase tickets for those shows.

HOW MUCH: There are free events as well as ticketed events and the prices vary from event to event.


What are you looking forward to seeing at Illuminate Adelaide 2023?



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