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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Undercurrents @ Queenstown Tasmania

Luku Kukuku and Craig Laurendet travelled to Queenstown Tasmania, to present Undercurrents at the 2014 Queenstown Heritage Arts Festival,  located in “one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen,” according to Craig. This festival is a biennial event which this year coincided with the centenary of the Lake Margaret Power Station – the oldest operating hydro-electric power station in Australia and a site of high cultural and industrial significance to Tasmania.

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The most popular attraction of the Undercurrents projections was an interactive musical instrument, a piece of interactive software designed to let members of the public interact with the architecture of the Empire Hotel, changing its appearance and creating a custom soundscape based on their actions.

Craig says, “We created two interactive musical instruments to commemorate the hydro electric power stations anniversary, which was part of the festival’s theme. One instrument had an Electric theme and the other had a water theme. Users could manipulate the architectural projection visuals, and create Hydro or Electrical themed music and also trigger historical sound bites.”

As illuminart’s animator Luku Kukuku explains, “A sensor across from the hotel tracked the hand positions of participants, and allowed them to hit illusory ‘buttons’ using a glowing cursor projected onto the building, changing the music as they did so, and altering various aspects of the special effects on the building – for example, increasing turbine speed, the production of electricity, or the intensity of water pouring out of the hotel’s veranda.

“The music that the audience was interacting with was the work of Illuminart collaborator Andy Killcross, with visuals and interactions by myself, and mapping by Craig Laurendet.”

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There were three parts to Undercurrents, starting on Friday night during a street parade which turned out to be a little more exciting than planned.

Craig explains, “There was supposed to be a Light Up moment. A giant paper puppet angel with a light inside it was going to touch the Empire Hotel to ‘trigger’ our projection. But at the last minute the puppet’s head caught fire. Before it could touch the building it had to be dragged out into the main street and doused with a fire extinguisher. In the flurry, Luku flicked his computer on and the building lit up spectacularly. No doubt the three thousand strong crowd thought it was all part of the show – a burning man tribute. Luckily for us, the hapless puppet’s demise garnered national coverage and there was a lovely shot of our Empire Hotel projection carried in its wake.”

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While the highly decorative projection presented the first night evoked and celebrated the mechanisms of Hydro Power generation; the projection on the second night was a more detailed architectural storytelling that traced the stories of Lake Margaret Power station through the eyes and lives of the former residents. Written and voiced by Samantha Ray to images by Luke ‘Zero’ Shaw, the projection delighted the thousand or so Queenstown residents who watched it.

The third and final element was an informal projection for the Paragon Theatre facade during the closing party.