Meetings and Events
AVCF visit to Tate Modern’s new Switch House extension, 24th June 2016
Superb, and that’s just the stunning view from the viewing balcony of Tate Modern’s new extension. A grand twisted pyramid that towers over the original power station build.
On Friday June 24th Dan Crompton, Tate’s AV Manager, gave some of our members a grand tour of the building. Starting on level 10 and that glorious view of the Thames and St Pauls on a rare bright and sunny morning.
As befits such a stunning space this uppermost level will also be used for events and had a ceiling mounted array of pod speakers from JBL to cater for audio delivery without, this without compromising the lovely open plan minimalism of the huge space. Although I’m sure the odd screen on a stand may find its way there occasionally.
Down on level 9 we saw an education/all users space using Solstice software (that can be user driven) and live Video switching/streaming capabilities via an epiphan Pearl unit. Also, near the rack containment containing the above is an ideal space for a control position at the back of the room. The level 9 space also had great deep access routes under the flooring included in the build for plant containment (which Dan had cleverly piggy backed on – smart!) All super flexible.
Just like the overnight showbiz success (no such animal) Dan has been planning for 15 years by small increments and slow erosion to get IT to realise that the AV bods would not compromise their world if suitably catered for. The inclusion of a VLAN network is dedicated to AV use to stream audio and video over the backbone network to different spaces across the Tate estate. A great example of this was demonstrated admirably to anyone attending the opening night as proceedings from the main opening event were fed to displays around the building.
As you would imagine the demands of artists and curators are to the forefront of Tate’s many spaces. This is catered for in some spaces by a partnership with Bloomberg Connects with their specialist team working alongside, Dan and Tate’s special projects unit.
Legacy AV, nostalgic pangs from some of the group here, in the form of Ektapro slide projectors, CRT monitors and 16mm film also plays an important part in delivering a true reflection of the pioneering artists from earlier years, when AV technology was starting to play a part in their art. This is just one example of the very specific demands for AV delivery at Tate. As performance art comes more to the fore spaces like Tank 1 in the basement area is a living example of a re-purposed space that is both unique and fitted with lighting and sound that any theatre would crave for. While some areas of corporate AV delivery steer towards the use of LED for lighting, everything in Tank 1 is tungsten and is very important for the artists commissioned to use the space. The latest of these being the photographer Wolfgang Tillman who is developing a project there and was quick to praise the veracity of the lighting.
We ended with a look at the Starr Cinema, with a great Sony 4K projection set up, a traditional Ernemann15 35mm system and all backed with a stunning Dolby Atmos sound system. This space is another triumph for Dan in having had the foresight to commission a report from an external AV expert, which highlighted the lacklustre nature of the previous installation, and to influence the decision makers on budget spend. This expert was Dave Tyler of Tower Communications, who was present to explain to us, what needed to be achieve if Tate were to, not only compete, but exceed expectations for both their internal programming and for external conference hire.
All in all this was another great show round for the AVCF posse by a man who really knows how to get the best from his approach to AV in a challenging environment. All achieved with the help of a passionate team, smart thinking, and solid long term… plotting!