saw robert henke's 'lumiere' at the barbican last saturday. henke asked us not to take photos during the performance, so that our screens didn't interfere with other people's experience. however, he did an encore just so that we could get some pics. here it is. [hint: full screen. headphones.]
henke's embargo on cameras wasn't just about distraction. the bright lasers create effects based on persistence of vision - the afterimage of a bright light on the retina of the eye. parts of the pattern are drawn too fast to see directly, instead one sees the fading afterimage - which is an effect inside the eye that a camera will not pick up, since it has no persistence of vision. this also means that parts of the image drawn in succession are seen overlaid in the eye. during this encore i was able to see the performance directly and on my camera screen at the same time - and the camera, while it gives a good idea, shows less. so henke was quite right to make us watch the performance rather than watching it on a screen!
there are times when you have to remind yourself that what you are seeing is not projected images, but images being drawn in real time by the tips of lasers that are moving very fast. henke warned us that the software might crash and need rebooting, and indeed that happened in the middle of the most complex part. because he had warned us, the audience just laughed - obviously it happens often. the encore was much less complex than some of the main performance - i don't know whether that was deliberate to not give too much away, or just the way the improvised performance panned out. the lumiere page of henke's site has images and movies that give you a wider sense of the event.
following henke, robin fox's RGB shot red, green and blue lasers at us rather than white ones away from us [henke's would blind]. this worked if you were sitting in the centre of the lasers, as i was, but people elsewhere saw far less. i thought i had filmed [surreptitiously] the best part, and found that my camera had set itself to photos not movies - all i got was an overexposed laser burst.