We are used to all sorts of unusual requests, but this one was particularly left-field: could we help to create an enormous temporary light show resembling a giant scientific device for space exploration or particle detection?
Noor Riyadh is an annual Saudi Arabian festival of light and art. In 2022, ES:ME was asked to supply rigging and lighting services to a site in the middle of the desert, an hour outside of the capital. Our job was to support world-class designer, Christopher Bauder, with his vision for AXION: an otherworldly temporary lighting installation he had devised for the festival.
Since this was an art installation, we had to put a huge amount of effort and planning into reflecting Bauder’s vision. This meant considering everything behind-the-scenes: for example, the cabling for the structure had to be precise and extremely tidy. Our Technical IT team was permanently onsite during the build, to support the artist’s programmers.
To build Bauder’s lighting structure, we designed and developed some of the necessary equipment in-house, then had it manufactured in Germany. This equipment, and much more, had to be moved from both our UAE and Doha branches. This logistical challenge had to take into account the border regulations of three different countries, and some of the material was delayed en route, which compressed the amount of time available for the build.
To bring all the necessary equipment to the site in the desert, our client had to use a bulldozer and open a road that was suitable for our ES:ME truck. We also needed to bring in a crane to lift the structure into place. And it wasn’t only equipment we had to move: around twenty members of the team were involved and flew over to fulfil the project.
Due to the equipment delays, our onsite team worked tirelessly until the opening day to build the structure on time and in line with the artist’s wishes. Everything worked flawlessly during the rehearsals, but unexpected lighting issues developed 20 minutes before opening night. Luckily, our lighting system engineer was able to find the faulty cable and replaced it just in time for the doors to open.
Reflecting on the achievement, Bauder was delighted with the result. “I like that we managed to put it in such a remote place. It needed darkness as a background and there aren’t many darker places than the desert,” he said.