Subtle Lighting Effects Evoke The Mystery Of Chinese Ritual Bronzes

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) recently showcased their extensive collection of Chinese bronze sculptures in Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes. This special exhibition was designed by Oscar®-Winning Production Designer Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Lighting Designer A.J. Weissbard. It also featured additional stylized lighting by MIA’s resident lighting designer, Jonathan Hamilton. One aspect of the vision was to have subtle movement in the lighting of the exhibits that would contrast with the motionless bronzes on display. Jonathan specified several Rosco X-Effects® LED Projectors in his lighting design to create a variety of different lighting effects throughout the exhibition.

When he began researching how to create the kinetic illumination for Eternal Offerings, Jonathan’s
first inclination was to create the needed movement with gobo rotators like
Rosco’s Simple Spin. As he talked through his options with the lighting consultants at Gopher Stage Lighting in Minneapolis, they recommended exploring the X-Effects instead. This is because the X-Effects can cover more area, it’s designed for longer duty-cycles, and it creates a more linear effect than a gobo rotator inside an ellipsoidal.

X-Effects LED mounted on the wall.

MIA ended up buying 21 X-Effects LED projectors and installed them in several areas of the exhibit. Jonathan mostly used the 5500K X-Effects fixtures with its standard dynamic effect gobos to create a subtle atmosphere in several of the exhibit spaces. The fixtures were mounted on a piece of Unistrut in the ceiling and aimed at the floor. Each fixture was also outfitted with a connector that allowed it to plug into the ETC DataTrack that was already installed in the space.

One way Jonathan used the X-Effects was particularly striking. Shortly after you entered the exhibition, a translucent plexiglass graphic of “reflected water” was hung above an exhibit. A singular X-Effects fixture was hung above and filled the graphic with the its signature water lighting effect to bring the printed graphic to life.

XFX MIA Chinese blog Cloud Room Still
Swipe to see the moving smoke effect on the translucent silk material.
The moving smoke effect projected onto the translucent silk material.

Another innovative way Jonathan used the X-Effects was to create a faux smoke effect in an exhibit that featured a small “volcano-like” sculpture. The design team wanted a smoke element to come out of the structure, but the museum didn’t want to use actual smoke or fog. Jonathan shuttered the light to shape its beam, and then softened the focus of the standard gobo effect. He then programmed the X-Effects so that both of its gobos moved upward along a piece of translucent silky fabric that was mounted above the “volcano” element to create the look and feel of smoke rising above the sculpture.

XFX MIA Chinese blog Red Room Still
Swipe to see the subtle undulating effect on the floor.
A mix of 5500K and RGBW X-Effects fixtures create a subtle, undulating floor effect.

In addition to the 5500K fixtures, the museum also ordered a small number of RGBW X-Effects as a part of their lighting package. Jonathan put these fixtures to work creating a red wash across the floor in one of the exhibit spaces. He mixed this red wash with a contrasting cool white wash from a few of the 5500K fixtures that created an understated undulation throughout the space.

Perhaps Jonathan’s boldest use of the X-Effects was in the final room of the exhibit where he created a mesmerizing effect of a gentle breeze blowing through the trees by combining two standard B&W Glass Gobos that were sized for the X-Effects. One gobo was #R81177 Skyward, which Jonathan programmed to be static to create the trunks and branches of the trees. Then he had gobo #R82895 Cloud Cover 3 rotate slowly to give a sense of movement in the trees’ leaves and limbs. By aiming the final projected effect at the exhibit's walls and floor, Jonathan was able to surrounded the museum’s visitors in a serene, breezy foliage effect as they entered the final exhibit of this special exhibition.

X-Effects LED project a dynamic foliage effect.

In the end, Jonathan and the rest of the design team created an experiential exhibition that engaged the senses of its visitors. Featuring some 150 Chinese bronze objects from MIA’s collection, Eternal Offerings was an immersive experience that utilized lighting to highlight the exhibits and evoke the mystery of ancestral Chinese worship.

Rosco X-Effects LED Projector

Rosco X-Effects® LED Projector

If you’d like to learn more about the products that Jonathan Hamilton and the MIA design team used to create the subtle lighting effects inside Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes , please visit the X-Effects Product Page on the Rosco website.



Joel Svendsen May 31, 2023 Questions?

About Joel Svendsen

Marketing Director: Joel's Rosco career began in Rosco's Hollywood office in 1999 – first in sales covering the Western US and the Los Angeles Film & Television market, and then as Product Manager for Rosco's Film & Television Products. Joel's knowledge about Rosco's products and how they're used in each of our different marketplaces makes him well suited for bringing the stories in Spectrum to life.