Local equipment rental provider, Gearhouse Splitbeam, was recently approached by Suntoy – a provider of innovative renewable and sustainable solar energy solutions and creator of the immensely popular Consol Solar Jars ™ brand - to assist with the local preparation for a lighting event taking place between 29th October and 13th November 2016 in the UK.

"IN LIGHT: Illuminating Capability Brown's Landscape" is an alternative light installation devised by Laurent Louyer of Creatmosphere (a visual art studio which utilises light and technology in as progressive and environmentally friendly method as possible). The event aims to revitalise Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park using an interactive light display commissioned to mark the 300th anniversary of well-known British Landscape Architect; Lancelot "Capability" Brown. In an unusual twist, the UK installation incorporated 450 of the South African designed and manufactured Consol Solar Jars ™.

Harald Shulz, Managing Director at Suntoy collaborated with the University of Johannesburg and their technology incubator, Resolution Circle, to realise his vision of linking the solar powered jars via a DMX-type technology to enable each unit to "communicate" organically with the others. Each jar's functionality needed to be controllable by means of a networked "wireless mesh" so that they could be sequenced through a lighting board. Gearhouse Splitbeam was able to provide the development team with a 24 Channel ETC Smart Fade Desk to experiment with, as they established an effective Mi-Fi control system using individual custom-made receivers mounted in the lids of each bottle.

A three day test-run took place at UJ's AW Muller Stadium in Johannesburg, kicking off on 14th October. Splitbeam brought in an MA2 Desk on PC with Command Wing and a pair of the company's networking "whizz-kids" in the form of Marcel Wijnberger and Michael Inglis to assist with the accurate addressing of each individual unit, improved response times and the programming of "chase" sequences for the initial test days.

Splitbeam also provided a small sound system for the test run and press evening to complement the serene ambience provided by a field of 500 twinkling lights as the sun went down.

"This was the first time that wireless DMX technology had been used to network solar jars on this scale", says Michael Inglis, "For anyone with a passion for innovation; being involved in a technologically pioneering event like this, provides a fresh thrill every time. New challenges and new solutions…it's what we thrive on at Splitbeam."

"IN LIGHT"s UK iteration offered visitors an additional interactive element allowing them to manipulate the illumination of the trees, Verney's mansion, the chapel and bridge themselves, using Suntoy's host of solar powered light sources in a completely different way. "We are proud to have been able to contribute to Suntoy bringing their particular brand of South African sunshine to the UK for this innovative event" comments Inglis.

Story by Robyn D'Alessandro. Photo by Harald Shulz.

Nov 17, 2016

The Gearhouse Group of Companies