An intellectual and modern interpretation of Aether under the vaults of St Catherine’s Church

The British interdisciplinary design studio “Architecture Social Club” invites visitors to the Vilnius Lights Festival to meet at St Catherine’s Church on the 25th-28th of January, where they will be able to see an extraordinary spectacle – a contemporary interpretation of the luminous aether – the spatial audiovisual installation Aether.

Aether was created as a tool for experimenting with light and sound in space and the human emotions evoked by their unique connection. The music for the project was composed by the renowned electronic music composer, producer, and performer Max Cooper, whose work combines all the parts of the installation and turns it into a unique and unforgettable audiovisual experience.

Aether charms the audience each time with a mesmerizing spectacle that begins with atmospheric sounds and the projection of a three-dimensional grid of light – a massive shimmering cube hovers in the darkness and moves to the rhythm of a synchronized dance, its shapes transforming in response to a soundtrack by Max Cooper – growing, sharing and merging again. The viewer has the opportunity to walk underneath it and view the floating three-dimensional moving object from all angles. Aether seems to play with the emotions of those who observe it. The emotions are evoked by the surrounding shapes, colors, and sounds.

The emotional light and sound installation, which has traveled to many countries, is a continuously changing and evolving project with more than 30 contributors. The latest Aether is made from specially treated crystalline fiber, 12 km long, often posing significant technical challenges to transport. Therefore the content and technology used are constantly readjusted.

Aether is created by Architecture Social Club, a multi-award-winning London-based design studio that brings together like-minded people from different disciplines – architects, programmers, set designers, engineers, designers, and musicians – who creatively combine their knowledge and experience to create spectacular spatial design projects. This ambitious and motley company’s collective spirit underpins its work’s value.

“We are continuously curious about exploring important topics, experimenting, and researching, using new methods each time. We work with musicians, theaters, art galleries, and commercial partners. We work only on interesting and ambitious commissions,” says Satyajit Das, founder and artistic director of Architecture Social Club, more about his work and creative processes.

How does the creative process looks like in the “Architecture Social Club” design studio?

Our projects are very diverse and rarely resemble each other, but the creative process is always the same. When we create a concept or a narrative, first we do the research that inspires us. We sketch, prototype, try out different materials and methods, test and experiment. Our peer-to-peer collaboration and interdisciplinary approach, also means that we have access to a wealth of knowledge and skills within our team. Our aim is to find that special thread that catches our attention. Then we gently tame and see where it takes us.

What kind of emotions do you aim to evoke in the audience with your unique projects? Do they always react the way you expect?

It depends on the project, but the best thing is to see the audience enjoying our work. Aether was on display at the Lumiere London Light Festival, and from a video filmed there, we saw people fascinated by the installation. Moments like that are gratifying.

Aether is a multi-dimensional project involving many senses. Can you tell us what influenced the development of this conceptual project?

With Max Cooper we met at the university, where he studied genetics and I studied medicine. Both of us enjoyed club music. Max’s career took a musical path and I ended up focusing on aesthetics and visuals. We worked together in music, and when the Lumiere London Light Festival came along, it made sense for us to collaborate on a sensuous visual instrument. Max Cooper’s passion for video art and emotive electronic music makes each of his projects and performances a special audiovisual experience. He is unparalleled in his ability to create emotionally charged, immersive works that combine electronic music, visual art and scientific process. So, after many experiments, Aether was born.

How did the title Aether was born?

The installation is named after the debunked scientific theory of Aether (a.k.a. ether), which attempted to show that there is a basis for all physical existence – an invisible, empty medium that serves the emergence of reality. This scientific idea was the right one to make sense of the installation we are creating, which conveys something like an audiovisual map of abstract natural forms.

What would you wish for the visitors of the upcoming Vilnius Lights Festival?

We hope that Aether will not only interest and engage you in a positive multisensory experience but also ignite the desire to explore new ways of interacting with your environment.

Let’s meet at the Vilnius 700th Birthday Lights Festival from 25 to 28 January.