EMPAC - Mouse on Mars



The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | Troy, NY


Mouse on Mars

Jan St. Werner - Artist
Andi Toma - Artist


Birger Luedemann - Company Manager
Argeo Ascani - EMPAC Curator, Music
Ian Hamelin - Project Coordinator
Daniel Swalec - Lighting Design / Lighting Director

March 3, 2015 | EMPAC Theatre Stage


A rare US performance by Mouse on Mars, one of the most influential and innovative duos in German electronic music. For the past 21 years, Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma have been making electronic music that defies genre labels and classification, mixing IDM with krautrock, disco, pop, ambient, and avant-garde styles. Their music has been reinterpreted by orchestras and remixed by DJs, performed in concert halls and shown in museums. Characteristically, their recent 21 Again anniversary record featured collaborators as diverse as Tortoise, Prefuse 73, Modeselektor, Junior Boys, and members of Stereolab, the Boredoms, and Battles. Fusing theory, sound research, and deep, sensual experience, the duo has forged an identity around process and agility rather than any set sound profile.

text and logo from the EMPAC website
 photos © Daniel A. Swalec 2015


Technical Project Notes:

For their performance at EMPAC, Mouse on Mars advanced what they referenced as a ‘typical lighting plot’ that included two ‘washlights’, two 4light blinders, two atomic strobes and a smoke machine.  After discussions with our music curator, I decided to use four ROBE ColorWash fixtures along the back edge of the elevated stage.  Four Martin Atomic 3000 strobes with Atomic Color scrollers attached sat along the back wall of the space, and since EMPAC does not have any blinders in inventory, I opted for twelve 1000w mini-ten floodlights in a linear array behind the stage.  While the artists piped their music through the massive sound system, they also sent own video content through a 40,000 lumen projector pointed at a 10ft x 30ft projection screen.




While cueing on an ETC EOS lighting console, I relied on recorded cues as base elements and manually operated faders and buttons to cause the bumps and intensities, I landed on an extremely interesting element to include in the live performance.  The contrast between incandescent blinders (or in this casse, floodlights) and xenon strobe lights was incredible in the darkened room.  Hits of color from both the ROBE ColorWash fixtures and the scrollers on the atomics at times were amazing additions to the video elements, although some of the most interesting moments were the contrast between xenon and tungsten.






To download a PDF synopsis of my work on this project please click the download button below.