Up in Lights

Featuring the visual mastery of artist and lighting designer Matteo Messervy

Matteo Messervy is an urban artist and lighting designer. A city becomes the canvas upon which he lays out his visual artistry through large scale monument installations, restoring in creative ways, a sense of humanity within the dark walls of a location at night. He draws his inspiration from multidisciplinary collaborations ranging from computer programmers to research laboratories, and universities. History is a discipline Messervy is keen to integrate in his work by focussing on a notable event in the history of the place or project. He then translates this focus into light-filled visual spectacles.

ECMesservy_French-Embassy“Concrete Nature", Embassy of France, Bangkok
Following a call to project by the Embassy of France in Thailand, Messervy was asked to present a conceptual lighting design artwork in the context of the COP21 Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015, which took place in Paris.

The artwork presented for this occasion was in the form of projection mapping. It playfully highlights, deconstructs, rotates, and manipulates the French Embassy’s unusual geometry. This piece reflects a deep and meaningful approach that goes beyond the merely functional purpose of lighting. By establishing collaborations with renowned university researchers from different countries and disciplines, the designer proves that the artistic process can be multidisciplinary in nature.

Following the scientific findings on the memory of water by Prof. Dr. Kröplin, from the Institute for Statics and Dynamics of Aerospace Constructions at the University of Stuttgart, the designer decided to incorporate this scientific concept into his work. One of the main challenges, Messervy recalls was creating and pre-programming on computer all movie sequences, complete with the right rendering definition for an outdoor projection mapping project like this. This was followed by the laborious task of installing 14 computer-controlled video projectors on the roof-top, each device programmed with specific calculations and calibrations so the best results could be achieved in spite of the often extreme tropical weather conditions.

ECMesservy_NationalMuseumNational Museum, Bangkok
The concept behind the relighting of the National Museum and the Royal Barges in Bangkok revolves around the glow of candle lights and its visual impact on architectural features. The candle has a strong religious, symbolic and historical background as a unique lighting source in places of worship such as churches and temples. For most of human history, electricity did not exist. This particular type of lighting, filled the inhabited environment, lends it an otherworldly feel.

The ways candles glow and flicker across the walls, their spectral distribution, the movement, the shadows they create and the colours they reveal breathe a distinct feel to the architecture of a place.  The intrinsic nature of the light that emanates from candles conveys warmth and emotion, inviting people to enter a more contemplative and hypnotic state, bringing an aura of magic and spirituality to a place regarded as one of the most important Buddhist landmarks in Thailand.

With the use of specifically calibrated LED fixtures and the resulting subtle lighting effects, Messervy endeavoured to evoke and emulate the ways in which a temple would have been lit before the age of electricity with hundreds of candles casting a glow on the rich and elaborately adorned architecture.  This was achieved with an aesthetic lighting solution which greatly benefits from the cost/energy saving and environmentally friendly efficacy of LED technology.

LED mapping facade and architectural lighting, Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2016
Messervy partnered with Bangkok-based videographer and photographer Gabriel Camelin on a commission from the Burj Khalifa to present a dynamic LED mapping scenography on the Burj Khalifa, and have their work displayed on the whole length of the iconic structure’s facade for one month during the course of 2016.

The concept: to create an LED video mapping scenography that evoked flow of water and lush, abundant nature at the heart of a metropolis built in the desert. Messervy achieved this by creating and calibrating an extremely precise computer generated video content that once played through the LED screen, would be able to encompass more than 800 meters of outdoor facade, with details clearly visible, hundred of metres away.

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Published 15th April 2016