The Bioluminescence project sits at the intersection of art and science and is based on the South Coast of NSW.
Bioluminescence is an inspiring creative project, where young people can develop skills intrinsic to the creation of large-scale projection and light events, while they also learn about biodiversity.
The project delivers a range of skills by giving hands-on experience, from using camera technology for capturing images of nature and the biodiversity of the region, to live video projection mapping, event management, event safety and logistics.
Development of technical skills is by way of a series of workshops and events in different localities across the region. The development of technical skills and event management gives local young people a greater opportunity to find decent work, while a partnership with the Atlas of Life engages young people with custodianship of the environment.
The provision of live events in regional areas also allows them to contribute to their communities and society. The first time the community saw the Bioluminescence Project in action was a pilot workshop event at the historic Tathra Wharf in May 2022. A Bioluminescence event was also attached to the Atlas of Life BioBlitz at Bermagui’s Montreal Goldfield in September 2022.
Bioluminescence at Cobargo Folk Fest 2023
Eight students from Bega and Narooma High schools along with their teachers, plus one home-school student, joined Scott Baker and Isaac Lynnah on the first Bioluminescence workshop and event for 2023.
Energy and enthusiasm were high at the Cobargo Folk Festival site on Thursday as students participated in workshops covering an introduction to imaging technology including waterproof cameras, digital SLRs and a drone.
They engaged in different approaches to capturing the natural world around the site, and how to get better footage through composition, body positioning and camera angles.
The team explored and captured video from along the creek and through the bush as well as some of the amazing decorations made by the Festival volunteers.
Using a variety of editing tools on laptops and devices including Adobe Premiere, Premiere Rush and iMovie, the team edited their raw footage into short clips and loops, changing speeds, adding effects and learning about video file formats and compression in preparation for the live performance.
Friday was focused on performance preparation. Safety and site selection, video mapping techniques, projector technology terminology such as throw distance and how brightness is measured in lumens, along with the safe operation of the technology kicked off the day. There were introductions to VJ software Resolume Avenue, a video synthesizer application called Lumen and then hands-on experience learning video projection mapping software HeavyM.
Friday night, after a feed from local Sitta’s Woodfired Pizza Van, the team set up at designated site, The Chook Shed, in the middle of the Festival grounds. Safe ways to run leads, connecting midi controllers, levelling the projectors and then finally mapping the massive wall of the shed were the tasks completed followed by a rehearsal including managing the light pollution from the rest of the site.
On Saturday the team met for more pizza at the projection site, undertook a safety briefing, were allocated roles and responsibilities, donned their high-viz vests and prepared for the performance.
The Chook Shed provided the perfect screen for the stunning, geometric, layered projection designed and executed by the young team who kept the content shifting and morphing for the two-hour performance.
They took turns operating the four different content stations – HeavyM effects, triggering their video clips using Resolume, manipulating the Lumen video synthesiser and providing an ambient audio background manipulating field recordings of the site using the iPad app Samplr.
When not operating the technology they engaged with the audience answering questions and talking about the skills they had just acquired.
The audience of all ages saw kids rolling and playing in the soft grass making shadow puppets, adults dragging chairs out to just sit and watch and others stopping to watch as they moved around the site.
An extra bonus was people engaging with Isaac Lynnah’s interactive wrist mounted projector – the Beyard.
Students said they had fun learning the technology and presenting the show. The participating teachers picked up a bunch of skills and also engaged in the performance while festival director Zena Armstrong dropped by and was thrilled, commenting that it added a whole new dimension to the festival.
The Bioluminescence Project is designed to empower young people, to expand the options for broadcasting their voices through developing their technical skills, give them hands-on experience in giving back to the community through performance, and engaging them in the natural world around them.
Participating student James “was really engaged and excited by the whole experience. He was proud of his efforts and felt like he had finally found his kind of people” said his teacher.
Final words from participating Narooma High teacher Christina Potts who says “as a teacher I was impressed at the level of new skills and confidence that our students developed.”
Bioluminescence is presented in partnership with the Atlas of Life and is supported for 2023 by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. The initial 2022 project at Tathra Wharf was supported by Inspiring Australia NSW.
All images © Scott Baker.
Guest blog by Lisa Herbert and Scott Baker of Bioluminescence.