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Three Byte Intermedia’s lighting supports US artist retrospective

James Turrell’s new retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia has two light installations featuring lighting control systems by Three Byte Intermedia.

American artist James Turrell’s new retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra has 10 light installations, two of which feature advanced lighting control systems created by Three Byte Intermedia. The retrospective also includes holograms, drawings, prints and photographs.

“James Turrell: A Retrospective” runs from 13 December 2014 – 8 June, 2015 and follows three retrospectives in Houston, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York.

‘Bindu Shard’ part of Turrell’s Perceptual Cells series has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, along with five other major Turrell works.

‘Bindu Shards’ is designed to induce the drifting off state of mind that occurs in the early stages of meditation. It requires the viewer to ride a roller bed into a sphere-shaped structure, 12ft in diameter, reminiscent of an MRI machine. The viewer wears headphones and looks up into a white hemisphere. The sphere is then illuminated with colour-changing, pulsating LED lights.

“Three Byte software executes a program of binaural audio streams that induce beating between the left and right sides of the stereo headphones,” said Olaaf Rossi, Three Byte’s project manager. “It is absolutely critical that the lights and sound be generated from the same timing source – a feature that no existing system could support. We spent months developing the software to ensure that the lights are precisely timed to strobe synchronously with the audio beats, which are extremely important to the intensity of the perceived experience.”

Different programs, lasting between 11 and 37 minutes, alternate frequencies that emulate the neural oscillations occurring during different periods of the human sleep cycle. Although the experience is unique to each viewer and can be unsettling to some, most report it as being meditative allowing them to lose their sense of time and space.

“Three Byte’s special-purpose lighting control software was developed specifically for James to allow him and his studio to easily experiment with new effects and experiences in every installation, each of which is unique to the location,” explained Rossi. “Our software supports timeline-based, 16-bit DMX control for up to eight universes with particular attention to insert/edit capability along with increased low-light level precision controls and a custom tactile lighting control board.”