‘Stage 10’—Skepta Performance @Dystopia987 

Manchester International Festival, presented by Skepta.

“The physical build of the stage was designed to exactly house layers of visual and lighting technology, the tight modular building method allowed us to created a very integrated form around the technology. Built around a vertical gesture housing dozens of moving fixtures, supported by an array of ground mounted lights, creating a column of moving light that was shrouded by a very new, transparent LED surface arrayed in 360 degrees.

The unique, long thin room meant we knew that the audience would have a controlled frontal perspectivce to the stage. That fixed perspective combined by with the visibility of the light core allowed us to create illusions of virtual objects being lit and interacting with the real light and real colour in the space. This dialogue between things rendered in a virtual plane, driving and being affected by things in the real world was part of the innovation brief from MIF.

The lightweight form allowed Skepta movement around the stage in 360 degrees, emerging and disappering into the central core, and the transparency of all elements emphasised the central core by creating radiating shadows and patterns, as video and light rotated, and interacted with the hard structural forms.

The show itself was formed around an idea of a central core, and again the integration of form, technology and software was envisaged early on to work naturally and tightly together.

The visual system was built around an infinitely rotating cylinder of light that appeared to float in the centre of the stage, a digital zoetrope that span virtual geometries extremely fast, and on which we mapped and sliced flat textures. This gave us a strong, functional anchor for the visual direction. As the zoetrope span around in the virtual plane, it actuated the lights that occupied the same physical space. At other times the central lights would be the driver, appearing to illuminate objects from inside.”
— The Experience Machine

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival. The project is funded within the Audience of the Future programme by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Supported by PRS for Music Foundation.


Client: Manchester International Festival 2019, SKEPTA
Creative Direction, Production, Staging and Lighting: TEM
Executive Producer: Valtteri Laihanen
Visual Software Development: David Li
Technical Direction and Control System Design: Artists+Engineers
Laser Systems: AC Lasers
Motion Control: Alan Wells Camera Services
AV Supply: AtoV
Trussing and Installation: No Nonsense
Show Photography: Louis Reynolds and Priti Shikotra
All Other Photography: TEM Studio

The Experience Machine
The Experience Machine Instagram