Measuring 15m in height and width, TOGETHER, is a spectacular new touring structure by LUCID CREATES. Designed in reaction to the isolation of lockdown, the AV installation – constructed out of three giant metal rings lined with video and light suspended between four towering steel pillars – became the centrepiece of the Leeds Festival’s new late night dance arena, LS23.
“Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn approached us early this summer explaining that he was looking to create a new late-night dance arena to replace the hugely loved Relentless Stage,” LUCID Director Helen Swan began, referencing the enormity of the task at hand. “Over the past year, we had designed and created a giant new touring AV installation called TOGETHER and as soon as Melvin mentioned an open space at the festival site, I knew TOGETHER would bring a whole new experience to the space.”
LUCID collaborates with communities hosting TOGETHER to collect their memories, archives and stories, weaving them together to create an immersive experience that is totally unique to each place that it visits. The written words of the stories move around the video screens on the inner face of the three rings, intertwined with moving visuals. The four pillars contain speakers which play a unique ambient soundscape. Into this soundscape is woven the voices of those stories, so that audience members are completely immersed by their community’s experiences.
“The structure is open on all sides and overhead, allowing for varying audience sizes and an easy flow of people,” Swan said, explaining that audiences can experience the piece from both inside and outside the structure and when inside they are ‘held’ in the space by the 360° visuals surrounding them, creating the feeling of being together as one. “The beauty of the simplicity of the structure at the centre of TOGETHER is that it can be transformed using light, video and sound and become an entirely different experience dependent upon the community it is representing.”
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The valley area at Leeds is quite a challenging one due to the steep banks, protected trees and lack of flat ground and so LUCID were restricted on how they placed the piece to best fit the space. “We responded to the challenge by placing two of the pillars on the bank on either side of the valley and then building bases for the remaining two pillars to raise them to the same height as the bank,” Swan said, explaining how the team created an enclosed stage which surrounded one pillar. “This meant that both the artist and audience were encompassed by the rings. We also added an extensive lighting package that extended the light from the rings down and around the valley.”
LUCID typically designs and builds TOGETHER in its workshop in Kent with a team of creative fabricators, directing the video and lighting content within the structure. For Leeds Festival, LUCID worked with the festival’s in-house teams, F1 Sound and Colour Sound Experiment, which provided additional lighting and sound packages. VJ, Matt Knowles and Lighting Technician, Kieran Hancox, handled the live shows.
“The response from the crowds and artists who played the stage was astonishing. It was a truly overwhelming and emotional experience to see TOGETHER unite 20,000 people dancing under the rings after so long apart,” Swan reported, summing up the unique experience. “We have had really humbling feedback from both artists and the audience who spoke to us both over the weekend and have been in touch after the show.”
This article originally appeared in issue #265 of TPi, which you can read here.