The Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, Texas holds its annual banquet fundraising gala, ARTBALL, every year in mid to late November. The dinner event is held in the upper gallery of the museum for an exclusive gathering of museum donors and management.
Everything about producing this event is on a minimalist scale. One word was given as to the direction to take and that word was BIOLUMINESCENCE. With that in mind, we started to consider jellyfish and how to present them in a dining environment.
Since the banquet takes place in a gallery in the museum, which is an active gallery open to the public, time and physical restrictions are aplenty. We had essentially the evening before and the day of the event to set up. No trussing was allowed and so any general illumination is from the ground; all equipment has to be at least 3 feet from any art, which fills the walls; no fog or hazers are allowed; there are absolutely no rigging points; most of all the entire gallery is limited to three 15amp circuit; and no operators were allowed inside the room, so we had to program and automate it, flip a switch and hope for the best for the following four hours.
The design presented was that the patrons would dine below a swarm of medusa jellyfish and their spawn, the jellyfish would glow, and the entire room would be a Caribbean blue. Three large jellyfish would be 8 feet across with tentacles extending 11-13 feet.
To make the jellyfish and their children “float,” a fine nylon mesh was suspended from one end of the room to the other at ceiling height. Since anything hung from this mesh had to extremely lightweight, the decision was made not to have any LEDs internally in the jellyfish; instead, they would be projected on, for which lasers were chosen to accomplish this.
Also the structure of the jellyfish, as mentioned before, had to be extremely lightweight. A foam mesh skeleton was made and skinned with 1 millimeter translucent plastic, and the tentacles were fabricated using the same material. The main concern was that the 5 watt Lasers from X-Laser would melt the plastic, but after testing on some jellyfish prototypes, all was well.
In fabricating the jellyfish, we found they were too delicate to transport so we had to fabricate them onsite. Two offsite models were made as templates, and then the three jellyfish for the banquet were made in the museum basement the evening before. To give the jellyfish physical depth, they had an upper and lower skin so that they could be painted with “ribbing.” They had to be raised VERY slowly as they would collapse just from the force of the air down on them as they went up.
The two Lasers were programmed to give an undulating look to the jellyfish and also hit the mesh occasionally to give a water ripple effect. The tables and walls were light from the ground and color was chosen to give a saturated pallet.
The jellyfish became the chandeliers. The bioluminescent effect was better than expected, and the one word direction hit the mark for ARTBALL.
- Museum Directors: Joe Schenk / Sara Morgan
- ARTBALL Chairs: Courtney Rangel / Jessica Gignac
Project Design and Installation by:
- Jerry Colmenero / Enlightening Ideas
- Corpus Christi, Texas
- Project Date: November 10, 2018
- Emmanuel Moya – Crew Chief
- Greg “Yogi” Barboza -- Fabricator
- Arnold Medina - Lighting Crew
- Catherine Medina – Lighting Crew
- Omar Gonzalez -- Lighting Crew
- 16 MEGA Baby Colors
- 2 X-Laser Mercury 5 Watt Lasers
- 1 Nicolaudie UE-7 DMX Controller