Music: Supermarket bombs Adelaide Fringe with Basement Beats

After just emerging from the smoke cloud following our last event Lateral Movement, it’s time for us to change gears and get back into the breakbeat audio-visual zone… enter: Supermarket! We launched this project of ours (best compared to the work of Ninjatune artists Hexstatic) back in early 2008 with Fringe shows (after our 1st North American tour) and this year we’ve adjusted the format and moved the venue underground- to the basement of Big Star CD’s & Records on Rundle St, Adelaide. They’ve been a long time supporter of and beacon light for independent music in this town, and they’re situated close to the Garden of Unearthly Delights (the beating heart of the Fringe festival) so theirs was an obvious choice.

Adelaide Fringe: Basement Beats - March 5, 12 & 19
Adelaide Fringe: Basement Beats - March 5, 12 & 19

‘So what’s new with Basement Beats’ I hear you ask? Well, this time the show isn’t just about us.. it’s a celebration of fine local beatsmiths and cutting edge audio-visual presentation. Opening night tomorrow will see us team up with Amoeba Muzak, as they take us for a spin down their very special brand of minimal tech and shuffle-o-matic house music. Recently experienced as a solo act, Justin will be joined by former collaborator James on the knobs, dials and keys… and we can expect some booty shaking.


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While Amoeba Muzak drop their beats, Em and I (as Supermarket) will be VJing up a storm, with prepared samples and live camera feeds from the room melting into the mix. We’ll have more screens on site than ever before (a dozen if all works out) and the space will be lit entirely by CRT glow. A projector screen at the back of the room will be the main focus, but you can expect stacks of TVs and a few glitchy screens tuned in to alien transmissions! We’re also doing our familiar a/v set as the opener for Amoeba Muzak‘s live show. Nights run from 7.30 to 9.30 pm, with fruit smoothies bicycle-blended on the spot for your refreshment.

So that’s the shape of Thursday, March 5th. Good news for latecomers is that we have two more shows, on Thursday the 12th and 19th of March. The 12th sees Amoeba Muzak stand down to allow DJ Tr!p to shine. He’ll be raising the roof with his superb chiptune breakbeats, before the 19th sees Amoeba Musak return once more with a dubbed-out set of originals.


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While these names may be new to some, both Amoeba Muzak and DJ Tr!p have been rolling out beats here for over 10 years each, so it’s areal honour and pleasure to be sharing a stage with these distinguished gents over our three night season. Tickets are available on the door, but to avoid disappointment (the venue has a capacity of 40) we recommend scooting over to Fringetix and buying them there.

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Art: An artists’ guide to the Rundle Lantern

The Rundle Lantern in action
The Rundle Lantern in action

Dazzling pedestrians with its light display and critics with it’s extraordinary cost, the Rundle Lantern is the latest contentious fixture in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD. Designed as a ‘cultural canvas’, and no doubt inspired by Melbourne’s Federation Square and similar light/sculpture/screen combinations overseas, the lantern is essentially an enormous display screen, designed to titillate spectators with its infinite colour combinations and conceal the unsightly multi-storey carpark that provides its scaffold.

While the screen itself can display video content, don’t get to thinking Time Square, New York, or downtown Tokyo. Despite its gargantuan scale, the screen is actually incredibly low resolution, and is made up of a grid of metal panels, each illuminated by white LEDs. Capable of tinting the metal panels across the full spectrum of hues, the LEDs can apply two pixels of colour (left and right sides) per panel. The grid is 34 illuminated panels wide, and twenty one high, with the screen extending along the building’s two most prominent sides. As the picture demonstrates, It wraps around the carpark’s corner, to create a unique and memorable facade. When the sun goes down each night, the fun begins.

Rundle Lantern pixels
Rundle Lantern 'pixels'

Designed and managed by contractor Fusion for the Adelaide City Council, Emma Sterling and I are lucky to be among the first wave of artists outside of Fusion’s studio to design content for the lantern. Despite a spectacular launch event back in October, complete with fireworks exploding off the carpark roof, to date the content has fallen well short of meeting the cultural objectives for the site, or displaying any significant artistic content.

Enter ‘Lantern La Lumiere’, a project commissioned by the Adelaide Fringe Festival,  supported by the South Australian Film Corporation and the Media Resource Centre. Armed with the basic technical requirements of preparing content for the lantern and some anecdotal advice from Fusion, eighteen Adelaide artists are currently producing up to one minute of content each, in preparation for the launch of Adelaide Fringe Festival on February 27th. The Lantern works will screen each night of the Fringe, with the loop synced to restart every hour on the hour until March 21.

Lantern La Lumiere workshop (Feb 1, 2009)
'Lantern La Lumiere' workshop (Feb 1)

Em and I first found out about the Rundle Lantern late last year, and attended a ‘secrets revealed’ session where we learned everything we needed to know about the screens capabilities… and some shocking figures related to the cost of its implementation and annual operations. Unfortunately, the workshop didn’t expand on this, so it seems like we’re as well equipped as anyone to share the knowledge. Here’s all the info you really need to get started designing and making content for the Rundle Lantern:


  • For cleanest results (ie, no colour bleeding) treat each panel as a single pixel. That means a canvas of 34 x 21 pixels in Photoshop or similar.
  • The software and hardware engine driving the lantern is called Hippotizer Media Server or ‘Hippo’ for short. Hippo sends the video as an MPEG2 file, at 680 x 420 pixels. Presently only Fusion staff are authorized to load content onto the system, after it has been approved by council.
  • Hippo can handle standard PAL video (720 x 576, 25 frames per second), but will resize it down to 680 x 420, so it’s better to output at this resolution yourself.
  • Colour separation in shadow and highlight areas is limited, so high-contrast designs will appear more accurately (and effectively) on the lantern than subtle low-contrast designs.
  • You can upload your files to the Rundle Lantern Simulator, and also look at previews of clips in progress and in the queue awaiting moderation/launching.
  • The simulator is really to guide you in the placement of the structure’s corner in the projected design- it does not represent the contrast shift which occurs at the site in reality.
  • To date, live video feeds have not been tested but have not been ruled out for the future.
  • There is currently no permanent means for outputting sound at the Lantern site.

Em and I are currently working on our pieces in preparation for the launch, and will post them, along with notes on our specific workflows. Using free and readily available software is absolutely encouraged. Use whatever tools you favour and have on hand… be it a consumer video camera and Windows Movie Maker or free icon editing software to draw with, like IcoFX. If you’re a child of Gen X and grew up with 8-bit computers like the C64 and Atari, join us and embrace this opportunity to celebrate a very public pixel renaissance!

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