LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING
Houston Arts Alliance
As many in the creative industry profess, lighting is everything.
Yet lighting was one of the last creative elements that Ed Wilson finalized when imagining a sculpture that would earn him a significant commission from Houston Arts Alliance on behalf of the Houston First Corporation. The commission — an expansive, spiraling mobile crafted from perforated sheets of steel forged into cloud formations and flying birds — is in its journey from paper to reality.
“You can think of the ceiling as being negative space even though it really isn’t,” Wilson says. “The flat surface, which has some holes, will be eventually painted with beams and reflections of light.”
Wilson always knew that lighting would play an important role in the finished product, but the idea wasn't fully realized until he sought the help of a savant who was fully versed in the proclivities of luminescence. It’s how Wilson operates. He envisions and conceptualizes designs, devises his own solutions and then consults experts to either affirm his proposals or help him fashion another blueprint altogether.
Through the experimentation, Wilson adds to his bag of tricks that will inform future projects.
In fact, that's similar to how Wilson originally became a sculptor. When he moved from his hometown of Minden, Louisiana, to Baton Rouge to enroll at Louisiana State University, Wilson signed up for a second-year sculpture class as an elective to test the waters.
Meet illuminati Christina Giannelli of Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera and Metropolitan Opera fame. Giannelli, who also founded Dance Source Houston, has worked on countless visual and performing arts ventures. Her latest credits include lighting design for TUTS Underground’s production of First Date and Houston Ballet’s staging of ONE/end/ONE by Jorma Elo.
Giannelli collaborated with Wilson to find two solutions: to conceive a way to spotlight the sculpture without adding unnecessary clutter to its physical surroundings, and to include lighting elements that would extend the work’s affect onto the surfaces of the building. Now that the locations of the lighting components have been identified, the equipment will be developed by Lighting Design Alliance, an international architectural lighting design firm with outposts in Los Angeles, Dubai, Shanghai and Houston.
When installed, the sophisticated technology will include a programmable LED system. The lights will be operated through a computerized control panel that will offer infinite flexibilities such as slow fades and color changes. On St. Patrick’s Day, why not glow the mobile with green hues? Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and red for National Wear Red Day as a nod to heart disease?
The system will have to be powerful enough to cover a large space.
Consider the scale of the ceiling — we’re talking about 5,300 square feet. As a comparative exercise, think of the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel in Vatican City at 5,000 square feet of painted surface.
“When my sculpture is installed, fitting squarely into the architecture of the George R. Brown Convention Center and merged as one, lighting will be absolutely fundamental to the final effect.”
With lighting, it’s almost as though Wilson were in the midst of creating two intermingling works of art. Double the value for Houston First?
“I don’t think so,” he laughs. “But it's an interesting thought.”