Warning: This article contains flashing imagery.
If a swarm of fireflies trained to perform a synchronized dance routine suddently flew into an indie rock show, it might look something like DJ-cum-artist Max Cooper, Architecture Social Club founder Satyajit Das, and designer Regan Appleton's mind-blowing installation, Aether. Like MacGyvers of installation art, the London-based trio cleverly combines string, pipes, and a single projector into a truly stunning light show.
At first glance, Aether looks like a matrix of LEDs programmed to dance in time to the music. Its ingenuity only becomes clear when you get up close. "Your brain can't quite work out where things begin and end," Cooper tells The Creators Project. When the house lights are up, you see 4,000 lines of string hanging from the ceiling, but when the installation comes to life it's a whirlwind of light that boggles the mind. Cooper explains, "A 2D straight line image is not very complex, and your brain knows how it was made. So it's not amazed by it, but when you can start multiplying that by, say 2,000 pixels and stretching it out into the third dimension, your brain starts doing the magic for you."
That magic was definitely working on visitors to the House of Peroni pop-up where we saw Aether in action. The installation was like the fireworks finale after performances by Oberhofer and Nancy Whang, and later in the week amazed guests at talks by Vanessa Beecroft and Catherine Martin. Das recalls the mood surrounding the stage at the beginning of the laser show: "The reaction was one of silence in the crowd. When the installation started, everyone stopped what they where doing. They were totally transfixed and mesmerised by Aether… Shortly followed by a sea of phones trying to capture the installation from every angle possible."
Visuals have always been important to Cooper while touring as a producer, and Aether is a product of that fascination. In its final form the sculpture will be able to respond to live music during Cooper's sets. For the next six months Aether will appear in temporary spaces like the one we saw it at before embarking on a world tour.