Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Workspace

There is something about Halloween that inspires creativity. Last week I visited the workspace for the Steampunk Haunted House (pictured), where Third Rail Projects' artists and designers plan their installations. It was like a mad scientist’s laboratory: among the chaos were a table of metal gears, a chair with vertebrae along its back, and piles of fabric carnations on the floor.

In the corner, lighting designer Kryssy Wright was experimenting with light bulbs and color gels. Haunted houses are obviously supposed to be dark, but they need just the right amount of light to give the audience a hint about what’s lurking in the room. But light is like watercolor; if it’s not painstakingly controlled, colors can bleed into each other or light can flood the room. Kryssy has this skill mastered. She turned off the overhead lights in the workspace, and I was astonished to see her two lights—one amber and one blue—create an amazing shade of violet. “To me, that’s the color of a dream,” she said.

I also met scenic designer Chris Cummings, who’s been planning the flow of the venue for this year’s immersive, free format. Because audience members will be wandering through the house uncontrolled, Chris must carefully arrange the space, making sure that the Steampunk Haunted House has an underlying logic to it and that the sets are all blend seamlessly into each other. He also showed me some top-secret mock-ups of a machine he designed for one of the haunted house’s special effects. I can’t describe it in detail, but let me just say that he has created a device that perfectly balances the mechanized science fiction of Steampunk with the ethereal, nightmarish quality of this year’s theme.

These two designers have been working closely with the Mad Scientist himself, creator and director Zach Morris, to make the Steampunk Haunted House a breathtaking spectacle. Zach has been creating much of the environmental design with Chris and has worked with Kryssy to shape the concept for the lighting. Likewise, the designers’ unique visions have shaped and inspired many of the performative elements of the event. This collaboration has created a truly unified, immersive world.

With talented people like these at the helm, this year’s Steampunk Haunted House will definitely live up to the hype. I can’t wait to see how all these disparate materials and talents combine forces.

Photos by K.O., 2010.


ChrisC said...

Great post! Thanks M.O.!

Rot said...

Agreed. Really detailed and informative.