Living And Lighting The Disma Dream

Living And Lighting The Disma Dream

Colour Sound Experiment has provided lighting kit to LD Alan King for his illumination of the castle at the antithetical theme park wonderland of Dismaland, a temporary-pop up art intervention that turns the safety of simulacrum on its head … at the site of Tropicana, a derelict seafront lido in Weston Super Mare, UK . The experience is curated by graffiti artist and provocateur, Banksy.

The mangled, rusting, mean, grimy steelwork of the castle is a sinister visual centrepiece for the dystopian experiment, and has been constructed by art collective Block 9, known for their fantastically detailed, raw, edgy urban environments created at festivals and music events.

Alan regularly lights Block 9’s scenic spaces, so they invited him to add some special hard treatment to their version of the sacred saccharinity of Anaheim’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

The castle is an intricate object of great structural beauty, all adding to its trash-appeal. In keeping with the mean overall spirit of the aesthetic, the lighting brief was an interesting one for Alan as it required the environment to be lit so it can be seen and appreciated at night. In all its ominous maleficence.  

Alan took a theatrically deviant approach to this challenge, which also fitted into the whole anti-commercial vibe of Dismaland.

Colour Sound supplied around 30 x IP rated high dispersion MBI lights for which he improvised – in true street spirit - custom gel frames that clip to the front, allowing a selection of specific dirty colours to emphasise the sense of darkness, decay and dilapidation.

These fixtures are scattered all around the building, some attached to the structure and others fastened to the floor. “The MBI is designed for this type of work, and is very cost effective. They are visible to the audience so needed to fade into the set and look like it belonged there, unlike a fresnel or an LED unit”

The MBIs are augmented with around 30 of Colour Sound’s Chauvet COLORBand PiX IP rated LED battens which also diffuse the light efficiently. Again chosen for their robustness, they are a staple on the Block 9 lighting installations that Alan crafts for Glastonbury and other international events.

The Disma castle is surrounded by a moat which is part of the old public lido – opened in 1937 and closed in 2000 – swimming pool, which hosts a selection of other objects integral to the art, including a crashed partially submerged police armoured vehicle and Banksy’s hallucinogenic mermaid.

A few ETC Source Fours in waterproof housings are secured in place on top of the lido buildings for highlighting other elements and art pieces.

As well as sourcing all the kit in the middle of the UK summer festival season, another major challenge was preparing it for the hostile environment – both metaphorically and literally! Everything had to be fortified and resistant to the wet weather, wind, high salinity, dust and sand, etc. – so dimmed sources have been kept to a minimum, and the MBIs and LED fixtures all ran on relays.

The lighting states were programmed on Alan’s ChamSys MQ60 and are run from a  networked laptop on site that can be remotely accessed by Alan – who can look at the lighting via a security camera - and tweaked if necessary.

Colour Sound has invested heavily in IP rated fixtures which are increasingly in demand for ‘scenic’ lighting of the numerous festivals the company services throughout the summer, in spite of it being the busy season, they could supply everything needed for Dismaland.

Apart from that, “As ever, the whole team at Colour Sound were a real joy to work with” says Alan.

Colour Sound’s Haydn Cruickshank (H) commented, “We were delighted to be involved in this cool and cutting edge project … the whole idea of atmospherically engineering makeshift spaces goes back to our very roots as a company. Alan has done a great job of lighting the castle and it’s excellent to see the whole Dismaland project creating a stir and getting the critical acclaim it deserves”.

Photos: David Levene

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