UK-based lighting rental specialist Liteup supplied lighting, video server and control plus rigging equipment for all technical departments for the recent UK and European leg of Björk’s Cornucopia tour.
The lighting was co-designed by Bruno Poet and Richard White.
Poet is a theatre and opera LD and has created lighting for bands including Sigur Ros, whilst White has worked on the road for Björkas a programmer and lighting director for the past six years.
The focus of the Cornucopia show – which was initially produced in 2019 as a series of one-off shows at new arts venue The Shed in New York – was nature and the environment.
The visual starting point for the lighting design was the video content created by artist and designer Tobias Gremmler, who Björk has worked with previously, in addition to Chiara Stephenson’s set designs.
Poet and White both also worked with show director, award-winning Argentinian filmmaker Lucretia Martel, who brought a cinematic perspective to the show.
Liteup’s Account manager was Marc Callaghan, supported by project manager Dan Bunn.
Callaghan said: “We were extremely proud to be part of a ground-breaking production like this. The show looked fantastic and absolutely blew me away when I saw it. The production was very detailed and precise with all the elements both physically and artistically linked.”
The stage floor was modelled on mushroom heads, complete with complex gill structures on the underside, opening/closing string curtains stage left, right and upstage centre, and an LED screen at the back.
The lighting design was arranged in layers, offering the ability to change and shift the environment and to highlight and emphasise different areas of the stage separately or combined.
Liteup provided 16 x Martin MAC Viper Performance and 37 x MAC Viper profiles for the main hard-edged moving lights, which were arranged on six over-stage and two FOH trusses, joined by 29 x GLP X4s as the primary wash lights.
Two Robe BMFL WashBeams running on a RoboSpot remote follow spotting system were positioned at FOH, off to the sides. The aim of this was to increase the subtlety of their impact on stage, and create an effect that wasn’t felt by the artist on stage.
White said: “We always try and spot Björk from a very side-on angle which isn’t always possible when touring multiple venues.”
32 GLP X4 Bar 10s and 20 x X4 Bar 20 LED battens were positioned on the over stage trussesin upstage and downstage rows. The staging concept was based around a ‘utopian planet’ and so Poet and White wanted to be able to create multiple sunrise and sunsets with stage-wide shifts of colour.
Both GLP JDC1 and SGM Q2 strobes were used throughout all the shows, offering a wealth of different effects from the same unit. On the UK/European leg, White specified Q2s for the floor strobes and JDC1s for the overheads, as they had swapped to a festival-style rolling stage with the floor units completely visible.
Twenty Astera AX3 ‘LightDrop’ battery powered LED ‘pucks’ were dotted around the stage, allowing the mushroom gills and other set elements to be highlighted completely wirelessly.
White had previous experience with the LED ‘pucks’ and therefore felt they would be ‘perfect for this job’. They could be charged during the load-in, and simply positioned and focused before the doors opened each day.
Two grandMA3 light consoles were supplied by Liteup for control with adisguise 4×4 promedia serverfor the playback video which was operated by Daniel Bond.
One of the biggest challenges for lighting was during the more ‘video-driven’ songs, where people and set had to be lit in complementary and subtle ways, and the designers has to find angles that would create the effect but avoid any of the projection surfaces.
This was the primary reason for using fixtures with framing shutters, and during parts of the show lights had to be rigged on the curtain trusses themselves in order to light performers whilst sandwiched between multiple curtains.
The rigging detail comprised 136 motors from Liteup – a mix of quarter ton, half ton, one-ton and two-ton and including the five Kinesys vari-speed hoists – which were shared between lighting, audio and video departments, together with 143m of Litec PR60 pre-rigged truss. Head rigger Steve Belfield worked alongside Toby Lee.
Dan Bunn worked closely with Steve to work out multiple rigging solutions for the show. This included getting one of the truss structures re-engineered to achieve a result not possible with any off-the shelf-product.
The lighting crew chief was Aiden McCabe, Ryan Harrington oversaw dimmers and the lighting crew was completed by techs Simon Carus Wilson and Mick Stowe, all working directly for the production. All were chosen by White for the tour, and most had worked with him and Poet previously.
Overseeing everything on the road was production manager Peter van der Velde.