Liquid light show

Liquid light shows (or psychedelic light shows) are a form of light art that surfaced in the early 1960s as accompaniment to electronic music and avant-garde theatre performances. They were later adapted for performances of rock or psychedelic music.

Leading names included The Joshua Light Show/Joe's Lights/Sensefex located in NY), Tony Martin (SF, NYC), Elias Romero (SF), Mike Leonard (lights for Pink Floyd) (UK), The Heavy Water Light Show, Mark Boyle's Lights/Joan Hill (UK), Lymbic System (Mark Hanau) (UK), Glen McKay’s Headlights, The Pig Light Show (NY), Lights by Pablo (NY), The Brotherhood of Light (SF), Little Princess 109 (SF), LSD, Ed's Amazing Liquid Light Show, Abercrombe Lights (SF), and the Single Wing Turquoise Bird light show. (California)

Liquid light shows surfaced on both sides of the Atlantic around 1966 and were an integral part of the Progressive music scene well into the seventies. Shows could be as simple as a single operator and two or three modified slides or overhead projectors and a couple of color wheels or as complex as shows with ten or more operators, 70 plus projectors (including liquid slide, liquid overhead, movie and still image models plus a vast array of highly advanced (for the time) special effects equipment).

The style and content of each show were unique but the object of most was to create a tapestry of multimedia live event visual amplification elements that were seamlessly interwoven, in a constant state of flux and above all, reflected the music the show was attempting to depict in emotional visual terms.

While the shows on both sides of the Atlantic had much in common they differed in two important ways. First, the American shows tended to be larger, with seven operators and over thirty projectors not being exceptional. In contrast, the shows in England seldom had more than three operators and ten or so projectors. Second, American shows were generally built around the overhead projector with the liquids in large clock cover glasses. Shows in England and Europe, in contrast, used modified 2" sq. slide projectors which had their dichroic heat filters (one or both) removed and employed two layers of slide cover glasses with two liquids (oil and water based, in the early days) between each layer. Alternatively different coloured water based dyes were used in each layer, which slowly boiled producing pulsing vapour bubbles when exposed to the heat of the projector lamp with the heat filters removed. Consequently randomly pulsing and moving blobs of colour were projected on the screen creating the light show. Before the projected layers totally dried out a new slide would be switched in the projector slide holder, meanwhile the old glass would be removed, cleaned and refurbished with new dyes and the projection process would continue. The surface tension of the liquids largely retained the mixtures between the glass slides, but the process was nevertheless very messy indeed and operators had their hands almost permanently stained by the dyes. A popular choice of colored liquids for light shows was Flo-Master ink, a product developed for use in permanent marker pens. While this ink was very vivid it also had the problem of staining the operator's hands very deeply.

Two groups that are associated with the light shows they worked with above all others are Jefferson Airplane and the Headlights light show in America and Pink Floyd with light artist Mike Leonard in England.

This page was last edited on 25 March 2018, at 19:37.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelic_light_show under CC BY-SA license.

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