Coloured Light Plays (CLP)

As part of Coloured Light Plays, Sunday 29 September, 2013
The Alderman, Brunswick, Melbourne

Slap Pals were invited to create an event for Coloured Light Plays, a series of projects curated by Sandra Bridie and Craig Burgess that occurred at The Alderman in Brunswick, Melbourne. Along with the curators, other artists involved in CLP were Ann Fuata, Cheralyn Lim, Benjamin Woods and Amie Anderson.


The title for the series, Coloured Light Plays, stemmed from the machine-produced Coloured Lightplays or Farbenlichtspiele, which were controversially attributed to German émigré artist Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack. Hirschfeld-Mack was a student and master at the Bauhaus, working alongside artists such as Paul Klee and Lyonel Feininger.

Hirschfeld-Mack fled Germany for England and was then sent to Australia as one of the ‘Dunera Boys’. After a period of internment in Tatura in regional Victoria, Hirschfeld-Mack was invited to become the Art Master at Geelong Grammar School.

For CLP, Slap Pals created a participatory multimedia experience based around Kandinsky's colour and shape associations. Instead of the Bauhaus red, yellow and blue, we transposed the colours into the digital realm using the additive system of colour of red, green and blue. Slap Pals then surveyed members of the public to determine which colours were to be paired with the primary shapes of circle, square and triangle.


The outcome of the survey formed the backbone of the project with people deciding that red-circle, blue-square and green-triangle were the strongest colour-shape associations. Slap Pals built simple machines to reflect these colour-shape pairings whose sole purpose was to create video textures. These video textures were fed into computers via web cams and then mixed live with footage of participants wearing oversized colour-shape smocks. This fused video footage was then projected into the space for all to enjoy.


A corresponding soundtrack was created using a Heinrich Bormann score (notated using circles, squares and triangles) and audio loops sampled from three New Order songs, Blue Monday, Bizarre Love Triangle and the little known Vicious Circle. These song were chosen because their titles directly referenced our colour-shape pairings. Every time a shape was reached in the Bormann score, the corresponding New Order sample was played. This created a hypnotic dance beat driving the overall installation.

Video documentation showing the type of live feed created by CLP