TSOTA was lucky enough to chat with Matt and Rob Vale from Illuminos about their awesome Light Night Leeds commission.
What do you think is so special about Light Night Leeds?
It’s the perfect mix of spectacle and family event, for that one night the city transforms into a place where you go on an adventure of discovery, seeing places you know in a new way, and sharing that experience.
You both studied in Leeds, so you must have a pretty special connection to the city. What makes Leeds so great?
It’s very dear to us, I met my wife whilst in Leeds and lived there for 7 years. It’s a really vibrant and varied place, its got this great mix of high refinement and classic Yorkshire grit. More than anything there is a friendliness that you feel in the city, along with a great creative scene and determination to make things happen.
Your project piece is entitled The Phoenix in the Stone – how did the idea for the piece first come about?
We had this idea of wanting to make a piece that in some way felt like an ancient tale told around a campfire, something quite contained and storytelling based, but on a big scale. There is an elements theme this year and we wanted to make something out of the elements of projection – light and shadow. So the narrative of The Phoenix in the Stone came out of this, a myth of a bird that united the elements, hints at the geographical differences across Yorkshire, and takes the viewer on a journey of colour and movement.
How does your creative process work? Do you always agree on ideas and how do you settle on the final concept?
We push ideas back and forth, Matt has a great technical knowledge of what’s possible, and I’ll throw ideas around – normally it’s about the idea that is still popping into your head a few days later, the one that you can imagine in your mind and gets you excited. Then it’s just about trying to make that image in reality with computers and kit! It’s always very strange because you make these pieces one frame at a time, almost carving them out of pixels, then when its finally seen, it’s like a great rush of all that work compressed into ten minutes or so!
People may remember your Momentous display from 2014 – have you felt more pressure to create something even more spectacular this year?
There’s always pressure to make something that gets people excited – we always want them to have this magical, almost childlike wonder when watching the pieces we make, but it’s a privilege to get the chance to do these projects really. This year’s piece is totally different in style to Momentous – that was such an extraordinary project of engagement as much as anything. Phoenix is organic, like shadow-play, and goes to a sort of ancient and universal idea of telling a tale. We hope people like it!
What’s next for your company, Illuminos?
We’re in Chicago with Les Troyens at the Lyric Opera, which is very exciting, then a really exciting piece in Oldham which involves giant puppets and aerialists, Light Up Lancaster in November for a quite ambitious interactive piece with the great team there, then Portsmouth at the end of the year playing with Ships at the historic dockyard, so it’s pretty hectic!
Make sure you check out The Phoenix in the Stone at Light Night Leeds on 6th & 7th October.