Outside Lands Festival sculpture boasts 160 Astera Titan Tubes

Rob Ross of Studio RRD creates a spectacular light sculpture using some 160 Astera LED Titan Tubes at Outside Lands Festival. Photo: JORG

New York and LA-based lighting and visual designer, Rob Ross of Studio RRD, used his imagination and 160 Astera Titan Tubes to create a light sculpture centrepiece for the SOMA Tent at Outside Lands Festival 2022, which was staged in San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Park.

Ross has been involved with the festival in several different roles for over a decade and was approached last year to light the brand-new SOMA venue, named after the city’s lively South of Market district – a haven for electronic dance music enthusiasts that debuted in 2021.

This year, after multiple discussions and brainstorming, the festival’s Artistic Director, Will Irons of Iron Bloom provided Ross with a brief to create a production design for the space and curate the atmospherics.

Ross sought the creative capabilities of Titan Tubes, combined with smart programming to produce kinetic flowing pixels, using synaesthesia and other mind-related visual stimuli to offer an immersive experience.

A multifaceted speed-rail framework was built around the DJ booth with Titan Tubes attached everywhere transforming it from a metal framework into a 3D artwork combining a sense of adventure with structural elegance. Titan Tubes are one of Ross’ favourite fixtures and there was never a question as to what light sources he would be using. “They are bright, have a fantastic quality of light, great colours and are easily controllable as well as super lightweight,” he noted.

Lightweight fixtures were a key to all lighting in the tent. Titan Tubes were secured to the speed-rail positioned on two levels around the structure – everywhere there was a railing, there was a Titan Tubes. Due to the long operational hours, they were all run in wired mode.

They were mapped and run via a MADRIX controller which enabled video content to be played up, down, in and out, as well as through the Tubes for fluid effects. They could also spell out the venue name S-O-M-A on the Tubes, an effect much appreciated by the organisers and audiences alike. 

A night of programming on site was followed by three days and nights of shows with a fantastic US and international DJ line up including TOKiMONSTA from LA, ANNA from Brazil, Berlin-based Dixon, European activist and music producer Absolute, Detroit’s DJ Minx and many more who thrilled fans with some superlative music, matched by Ross and his team. 

In the roof of the tent, 120 Dartz beam effects were rigged, which contrasted well with the Titan Tubes. It was the only Festival space that enjoyed complete darkness all the time it was running, so Ross’ mission was to “let the light inhabit the space for everyone’s enjoyment,” a goal definitely achieved judging by positive feedback and chatter from artists, guests, and observers. “This project was very special and brought me a lot of joy,” he remarked. 

Ross also explained that his involvement and passion for Outside Lands wasn’t simply a question of designing lighting for one of the spaces, it was about being a part of the entire event’s success having seen it evolve and grow over the last decade.

Collaborating with him were Associate Designer, Aidan Marshall; Production Manager, Roger Picone; Master Electrician, Justin Souza; grandMA Programmer and Systems Tech, Brandon Young and MADRIX Programmer, Fabian Gordon.

Titan Tubes were supplied by Ross’ own company which owns several hundred. “I just can’t buy enough of them!” he concluded. Ross also recently used 500 Titan Tubes to highlight the architectural and industrial areas at Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Austin, Texas for the automotive giant’s ‘Cyber Rodeo’ facilities launch party.