C2 Montreal 2018 | Bentley Meeker (Light Designer / USA)
Internationally acclaimed artist and lighting designer Bentley Meeker still has the same mission and goal that he did in the very beginning: To create the best lighting environments on the market today. Best Kept MTL got an exclusive insight on the unequalled light and staging guru at C2 Montreal 2018.
J: What was your favourite project up until now?
B: Probably my favourite project ever was actually a job, it wasn’t even an art installation. The White House contacted me around 1999 and they asked me if I would light up a very beautiful wooden carved room in lower Manhattan, a fairly small area 20 x 20 feet. The assignment was to make it as beautiful as you possibly could. Complete free artistic range. I asked them for more details and their answer was that they were not allowed to give any more details or guidelines since the project was classified. But it turned out that Madeleine Albright, was hosting 9 female heads of state. And they asked me to light this meeting. A moment in time that will never be repeated and that to me it had this awesome ring to it… JUST female heads of state – what would the world be like?
J: Are we able to google any images from this event?
B: Absolutely not. This was a completely private and classified event that will forever only live in my mind. It was stuck in my head and it’s something I created and it was what it was.
J: So you make a personal difference between a light installation job and an art installation project?
B: Absolutely, and I mean, I think, in an art installation capacity, I’m using the skills that I have to channel something that’s coming from somewhere else going to somewhere else. When I did Burning Man, it was more freedom as an artist because I don’t get a lot of input on lighting because a lot of people don’t understand lighting super well and they don’t really have anything to say until it’s done and when it’s done the gates are open, so I would never really get an input which gave me a lot of freedom but also it came with a lot of responsibility. At Burning Man you are creating a temple. I mean, it’s arguably one of the most soulful places I’ve ever been to in my life and I take it incredibly seriously to create something that’s going to be conducive to why people go to a temple for? But it doesn’t feel generated BY me. A design is generated by me, you know what I mean, but when it’s something like Burning Man… it’s channeled. It’s coming from somewhere and I’m the guy who got chosen to bust it out, and then it’s going to somewhere. It comes from the universe and goes into the temple and then out from it with 70,000 people and their experiences… and I get to be the guy who channels it. From an artistic point of view that’s an amazing thing to be apart of.
J: What are your favourite types of light?
B: I’m a lover of halogen light. It just makes me happy. There is a new source of light that’s coming out and I and really hope they end up making it dimmable so it works in a home-setting… it’s plasma. Beautiful light! And it works actually not unlike fluorescent light but it’s really full spectrum. Go check it out!
J: Do you think light has a lot of effect on how we feel from day to day/moment to moment?
B: Light changes your mood. I’m a happy man. I deal with things that are very stressful in a non-stressful way and I believe it has a lot to do with me doing what I do. Certain types of stress don’t impact me they way they used to do and I really believe it has a lot to do with my “light” environment but I also work on quite large-scale projects so I can’t really give you advice on what you should do at home for yourself. However I did change all my inefficient energy lights – all out, out, out – I turn the lights off when I leave my home and when I am home I do keep things low for an ambiance that I personally can connect to. When it comes to hallogen light can be twice or even 5 times as inefficient as LEDS. We need to be more light efficient and caring about the lights we have around us. Here’s the thing. If I do my job well enough, the connectivity part of our relationship to light, starts to become apart of the calculus. And I can’t believe that it’s not. I do it but the question is if the critical mass of awareness has been raised? I am defiantly trying to raise as much awareness as I can when it comes to light.