Future Lighting Solutions Helps Alexander Scriabin Explore His Synesthesia Post-Humously


What started out as an email with a press release from Kati at Future Lighting Solutions turned into me pulling a late night looking at the symptoms, philosophies, and information about a neuro condition called synesthesia.  Oh, and Alexander Scriabin, the neurotic Russian composer and his “light organ.”

The basics of the topic – Future Lighting Solutions helped a symphony orchestra in Jena, Germany add a ton of colored light via light-up weather balloons to the concert.  Alexander Scriabin’s original work, “Prometheus: Poem of Fire” was the inspiration for adding all of this colored light.  From the press release:

December 19, 2008, was a red-letter day – and purple, pink, blue, green and gold, too – in the annals of symphony performance.  On that date, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra in Jena, Germany, performed works by composers Alexander Scriabin, Igor Stravinsky and Georg Friedrich Haas in a concert hall filled with 170 weather balloons that changed color to complement and enhance the music.  The historic LED-driven light-art concert was the culmination of a joint development eff ort between an artist and members of the Future Lighting Solutions network, fulfilling Scriabin’s 20th century vision of marrying color to music by utilizing never-before-possible 21st century solid-state lighting.

The gist of Scrabin’s work for “Prometheus” was to have a keyed device – a “color organ” of sorts – that would project light of different colors onto a screen during the symphony.  Apparently this guy and I would have thought a lot alike, because this is an awesome idea.  There are musicologists that believe that Scriabin wanted to flood the entire inside of the symphony hall with colored light, but gave up on that idea once he realized that it was technologically impossible.  Too bad that VL3500 Spots and Mac 2K Washes didn’t exist back when he was rocking the stave pad.

What’s even more interesting about this whole idea of lighting the symphony with color was perhaps due to a condition that Scriabin might have had called Synesthesia – “a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”  So essentially, Scriabin associated different colors with different musical notes.  At one point, he went as far as to graphically associate the notes with different colors on the octave pad.  Check it out:

alexander scriabin

Wouldn’t you love to live for a week in this guy’s brain?

Future Lighting Solutions provided the LED mechanism for the weather balloons, which was a complicated system of LEDs and a sensor that kept the light emanating from the balloons chromatically accurate among the system.  If you’re lighting the music of a composer like Scriabin, paying attention to detail is certainly the way to go, at least in my opinion.  I’m also the kind of person who at least tries to do everything I do at 100 miles per hour and full power.  More from the press release, this time about the LED system:

Each module consisted of 18 red, green and blue LUXEON® Rebel LEDs from Philips Lumileds mounted on six metal-core PCBs with three LEDs per board.  The PCBs in turn were affi xed to six-sided metal submounts screwed into aluminum tubes inserted into each balloon. The balloons were outfitted with one to four LED modules, depending on balloon size, enabling each orb to be lit from within by 18 to 72 LEDs. A MAL Effekt-developed DMX512 Power module was used to drive the LEDs, generate the desired colors, and control both color point and brightness via pulse width modulation (PWM).

Several steps were taken to assure color consistency in the LEDs themselves.  First, MAL Effekt used proprietary Future tools to calculate the achievable chromaticity coordinates and thereby determine which color bins were required to produce the color values specifi ed by the artist. Second, the firm took advantage of Future’s binning program to ensure that every balloon would be illuminated by LEDs from the same bin of each color in Future’s managed inventory.

For additional uniformity assurance, each balloon was also fitted with a JENCOLOR color sensor developed by MAZeT and manufactured by JENOPTIK.  The sensors monitored the color produced by the RGB modules and sent the information from a central DMX512 control panel to a custom MAZeT electronic for any necessary adjustments to ensure the homogeneity of color tones from balloon to balloon.

Such great images – check them out!

testing the LEDs in the weather balloons

LED weather balloon testing

the LED rig for the weather balloons


production shot

weather balloon led

Check out more info on Synethesia, and check out the Future Lighting Solutions website.

Thanks, Kati!

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  1. There is a very long history of light artists/scientists inventing color organs – beginning in 1730 in France. For many articles and theories, please visit the online library at Center for Visual Music, there’s an entire section devoted to color organ resources.

    Also there’s a few dvds about Thomas Wilfred and his light/color organs, beginning in early 20th century.

  2. Hi my name is Ken Rafuse . I have many years of lighting design experience I love the field I worked for the Royal BC Museum of British Columbia starting in about 1967 and finished 10 year around. my goal and Job in the museum was to provide all the lighting and special effects within the galleries to make things come alive. I also had the opportunity of doing small productions here and there which used color organs and other devices that created amazing light skate which I enjoy doing .The new technologies, the LEDs that have the ability to wash the walls and areas with these lights I’m very interested and keen in what you’re doing with your systems and futuristic approach to leading Now that I’m retired I would like to go and start doing some contract work. My companies name is Smart communities and it’s my goal to make lighting a very major part of people’s homes, If you have any information that you think would be helpful to me please drop me a note and I’ll be glad to respond I just recently discovered that I am dyslexic at the age of 65 ( It A GIFT I’am Going to work it to my benefit , It is quite a shock, I’ve done some research and discovered that they were tools of their that can help me one of these tools is called NaturallySpeaking it allows me to speak into a microphone as I am doing and generate the words it is 96% correct it’s unbelievable and you can buy it at Best Buy for $200. generates my speech making it very simple to get messages out you’ll notice I would appreciate your comments . You can contact me at kenrafuse@gmail.com or by phone, number is 778-885-4475. I live in Vancouver Canada 1047 Barclay St. Suite 408

    Thank you for your attention before hearing from you Ken Rafuse

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