A collaboration between the town of Les Baux de Provence and the specialist French venue management company Culturespaces, ‘Carrières de Lumières’ (‘Quarries of Light’) is a hi-tech re-purposing of the Carrières du Val d’Enfer – a network of abandoned chalk-mining tunnels close to the historic Provençal village.
With a subterranean feel, the Carrières de Lumières is a labyrinth almost 200 metres long that varies in height between 10 and 15 metres. In its newly re-invented form, the space provides the perfect backdrop for large-scale video projection – a place where visitors can view images close to or from a greater distance away, while the unique texture of the chalk surfaces adds further visual interest to whatever artistic content is being displayed.
The Carrières de Lumières opened to the public in March of this year with its first show – ‘Gauguin, Van Gogh, les peintres de la couleur.’ The show, which literally throws new light on the colours used by two of art history’s most celebrated painters by projecting still photographs and video animations of their works, was commissioned from designer Gianfranco Iannuzzi by Culturespace founder Bruno Monnier.
As well as the walls of the former quarry, the show uses the floor as a projection surface, while a discreetly installed audio system plays a series of atmospheric 12-track musical backgrounds through a network of 50 loudspeakers. A stage-lighting setup based on LED sources accentuates the stonework with raking light at times when the ‘screens’ are not showing any content.
In all, there are 68 video projectors, all ceiling-mounted to minimize the impact of projected light beams on visitors. Each projector has its own server content running an individual Dataton WATCHOUT channels. These, together with a second machine running the Medialon Manager show-control system with which WATCHOUT runs in sync, make a total of 70 devices in total – all housed in an air-conditioned control room located on-site.
The WATCHOUT-equipped servers were supplied by Videmus, Dataton’s partner for WATCHOUT in France.
“The project team liked the WATCHOUT solution because of its simplicity,” said Eric Lambert, managing director, Videmus. “As well as ensuring that all the projectors receive their video content at full resolution and in perfect sync with each other, WATCHOUT also uses MIDI commands to sequence the on-site audio DSP settings so that the right soundtrack is played through the right speakers at the right time, while at the same time controlling a DMX-512 universe for the LED lighting.”
“All this is then managed by Medialon Manager show-control system,” he continued, “which operates a seven-day calendar so that the show begins and ends every day, at the right time of day, without the staff having to worry about a thing.”
“The Carrières de Lumières is a fantastic space in which to appreciate art and represents a brilliant usage of WATCHOUT,” said Fredrik Svahnberg, Marketing Director, Dataton. “The effects created are truly stunning and we feel sure that they will lead to a greater appreciation not just of these great paintings, but also of the old stone quarry itself.”