HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – If you’ve never heard of LIT – lights + innovation + technology – that’s perfectly understandable. The conceptual art installation/live performance/light show is the first of its kind for downtown Huntsville.
"It's an ephemeral art form - a thing called digital graffiti," says UA-Huntsville College of Liberal Arts Dean Glenn Dasher who explains the idea was born when The Arts Council, Inc. approached college administrators about pooling talent and technical resources for a one-of-a-kind-show.
"Right now we're just experimenting with what's possible," Dasher says, "we're going to use this big facade and light up the building."
Local artists' sound-reactive light projections will mainly illuminate the Central Bank Building at 200 West Side Square that is now home to The Huntsville Times and AL.com.
There will be several other light installations around the Square in addition to the main show broadcast on the walls of the nine-story Central Bank Building.
Everything clicked when Downtown Huntsville, Inc. suggested The Arts Council and UAH make a public event of it - a coalescing of light, music, graphics and technology.
"You're actually using light to paint your artwork," Dasher says.
The Liberal Arts College Dean says in the past couple of years UAH has begun to develop some new tracks within the art, theater and music departments. Namely, a new music technology major, a theater tech track and a gaming animation program.
"Individually they work for productions - in a sense the normal fashion you would think of - when you bring it together in sort of a community atmosphere, you begin to see how the arts can enhance everything," says Dean Dasher.
But the LIT event is much more intricate than just lights pulsing while a DJ spins tunes - many disciplines and technologies converge to make it all happen.
"It's a quite complicated process, running through 5 or 6 programs simultaneously to make it work," explains Liberal Arts College Video Productions Director Aaron Sexton.
Sexton says all the raw elements are fed through a program called MadMapper, an advanced video mapping software.
"MadMapper gives us the capability to basically skew a throw from the projector to match the surface area in which that throw is projected onto," says Sexton.
The the technology allows the light show be broken in to individual sections so images can illuminate a single window or an entire building at once.
"Of course, they're an elaborate amount of technical hurdles to go through," according to Sexton. "We're using MIDI [or Musical Instrument Digital Interface] controllers – the biggest challenge we have is making sure different pieces of software are compatible with other programs and that we have the right connection.”
The show will also utilize a video manipulation mixing console - a program called Modul8. The software will allow artists to change the color and speed of the projected video content.
Those manning the technical side of things can even manipulate the images live and on demand with the use of an iPad. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the show it's spontaneous and experimental nature.
"The more mistakes we make the more we're going to learn," says Dean Glenn Dasher.
The light show is scheduled for 7-10 p.m. Saturday March 8 on the downtown square, overlapping with the hours of the Quigley arts and entertainment district. Admission is free.