This special July issue of Sunday| Mag explores the creative process of?SALT Nashville, a?creative arts conference. I (Jonathan Malm) know firsthand that putting together a conference is a lot like putting together an Easter service. The goal of this issue is to take a look at a conference and see what things we can learn for our own creative church endeavors. Enjoy!
Creating a story, a central idea, enhancing the environment around that idea… These are the most important questions we ask of our SALT team every year. What will resonate with our community of artists, technicians, thinkers, and dreamers? When creating visuals to enhance our environments, making sure they echo the story is of utmost importance.
For the first year in 2013, our theme mirrored the story of what God has done and is doing in our world: creation, fall, redemption, and recreation. We used the set and the visuals to illustrate this. The set went through several iterations during the course of the conference. When we saw it in the first two sessions, it had the form of a modular, grid-like structure. The main purpose of the set in this iteration was to use it to create a celebratory, exciting environment, mirroring the excitement and celebration that took place at creation.
To do so, we gave the set dual functionality. One of these functions allowed the set to display projection-mapped graphics. We aimed projectors at it, which allowed us project custom graphics that were mapped to the surfaces of each square.
The second functionality was as a low-res LED wall. Each square panel was lined with LED strip tape, with each panel functioning as a pixel. In this way, simple graphics and patterns were able to be played across the entire wall.
In the second iteration of the set, we had one of our speakers, Cole NeSmith, completely destroy the grid set, which mirrored the fall of mankind.
In the third iteration, we brought the set back to life in a new form, that of the cross. Many of the panels were broken or ripped from the fall, but putting them back together illustrated redemption for both us as individuals and also for our created works.
In the fourth iteration, we hung a simple white cyc where the set had once hung, symbolizing recreation?a blank slate. We used environmental projection to cover both the cyc?and the walls on either side, projecting graphics that asked the viewer to reflect and wonder on both their new identities in Christ as well as the journey they had been on that week.
Using visuals to represent a story is one of the central ways we as artists are able to communicate and relate to our audience. Being intentional in how we choose and use these visuals ? whether it be through set design, video, graphics, or other creative elements?allows us to focus on the most impactful way to tell our story. It also allows us to be intentional in how we share God?s story in our world and its relation to us as creative and technical people.