Dark Arts


By: John Mahon

Dark Arts

Visuals made, with love, in Smithfield and the Pigeon House Road.

5th November 2015


The barriers to becoming a live visual artist are many. The gear is expensive, the set up times long and hard, the venues are never easy. You need to be an electrician, graphic designer, rigger, cinematographer, carpenter and animator. Hours are spent producing what amounts to only a few seconds of usable material. 

More often than not you are playing a supporting roll and need to keep your ego in check and the visuals restrained.

The kudos is low as you’re those anonymous people in the shadows and nobody understands what you do anyway.

The gigs are few and the pay, relative to the work put in, is invariably terrible.

However, anybody who has seen live visuals done well knows the incredibly powerful effect they can have, enhancing a show or event in a visceral way and Dublin’s Algorithm collective are amongst the passionate few that push through the hardship to see their vision come to life infront of an audience. 

Some of the Algorithm installations

Algorithm was founded by Olan Clarke and Lewis Byrne in 2012. They met visuals outfit Slipdraft aka Daniel Steins and Cormac Murray whilst sharing office space at Block T in Smithfield. In 2014, alongside visual artist Kevin Freeney and one of the Block T founders Nick Linders, they became the fully fledged Algorithm, specialising in stage design, custom visuals, animation and projection mapping.

The guys have been reaping the fruits of their years of labour over the last 12 months, producing visuals for Electric Picnic, Web Summit, Bestival, Boiler Room aswell as weekly residency at Dublin’s District 8. 

We dropped in to meet them at the worst possible time, visiting them at their studio in Smithfield and workshop near the Pigeon House as they were feverishly getting installations finished for both Web Summit and Metropolis Festival happening in the same week.

Despite the work on they were good for the chats so we asked them how it all works...

Testing out their projections and installations in their warehouse workshop


The Locals (TL): What was the first gig you worked on and how did it go? 

Algorithm (A): The first show we all worked on is now remembered as ‘The Rave in the Woods’ at Electric Picnic 2012, now the Red Bull Music Academy stage.

We we’re brought in through Block T to build the stage and do projection mapping for. CLU (Kevin’s band) were booked to play on the first night so this was the first time we all worked on a show together and man did it go down well.

People were running through the trees to see a grid of empty water containers being lit from inside for the first time in Ireland - they looked like massive glowing pixels blocks.

Algorithm's edgy album shoot featuring Nick Linders, Cormac Murray, Daniel Staines, Chris Lunney and Kevin Freeney.

TL: What have been your highlights from the last couple of years and where we would have seen your work?

A: Much of our work comes from the entertainment industry and we have built a list of loyal clients that have worked with us time and time again including Web Summit, Boiler Room, Electronic Art Foundation, Hidden Agenda and Sony aswell as some of the biggest artists in the world. 

You might have seen our projection mapping installations at Web Summit and Bestival or our live visual performances at numerous festivals this summer including The Beatyard, Body & Soul and Life Festival.

Slipdraft are the resident light and visual operators at District 8 in Dublin and have played alongside some very prestigious artists.

We also do commercial and corporate work. Experiential marketing and event/brand activation has become really important and our clients are always looking for stage designs and visual installation pieces to bring new dimensions to their products.

In early summer 2015 we were brought over to Switzerland to create a visuals show for a gig featuring MMOTHS and Talos on the banks of Lake Maggorie.

The setting was so picturesque. We didn’t want to bring in a big structure that would block the view. What we needed was something that was invisible until it was projected on. The solution was a water screen.

They used the water from the lake pumped through a huge sprinkler that created a wall of mist the size of building. 

The screen was total invisible until the light of the projector hit it. 


The MMOTHS show on Lake Maggorie in Switzerland

TL: What made you believe you could form a company and make a real go of it?

A: We found ourselves working with each other time and time again at numerous different events. Apart from just enjoying each others company, each of us brought something different yet complimentary to the table and it became clear that we would be stronger together. 

Working under one name means we can visualise, build, and fabricate almost anything.  Our animators are confident that no matter what they come up with a practical solution for its construction can be found by our production team and vice versa.


The outside of their huge warehouse workshop in an old tuberculosis hospital at the end of the world on the Pigeoun House Road


TL: When did you move into Block T and how do you find working in that environment?

A: Collaboration has been at the hearty of what we do since Day 1 and BLOCK T’s DIY approach to event production had a big effect on us. The early in-house parties were a great testing ground for our early experiments.

The building is a great place to work, very chilled out vibe with a lot of talented people housed in the building .


Lewis settling into a long evening's soldering wires and getting ready for their installation at The Web Summit 2015

TL: Do you find the appetite for and attitude towards visuals is changing of late?

A: There has been a huge change in the last six years for sure. We have always offered this unusual take on lighting and it very interesting to see how the market is now changing to incorporate it.

Festivals are booking more and more visual and AV acts and audiences want more bang for their buck.

Lighting companies are buying brighter projectors and bigger LED walls and what we’re able to offer is curated visuals for their shows. We always hope to develop a show rather than distract from any sort of performance.


The Algorithm stage at Bestival Festival in The Isle of Wight


TL: Do you have a dream gig for Algorithm?

Daniel: I would love to perform at the Satosphère in Montreal. It’s a a 360-degree spherical projection dome housed in the sat theather. Creating content for an environment like this would be a dream come true.

Kevin: I still want to make a video for people to watch while travelling to Mars.


#skivingoffwork outside the gate of their warehouse with one of their Web Summit hash tag signs


TL: What’s in the future for Algorithm, goals and ambitions?

A: We’re happy to say that we have a few things on the go for the future. As well as expanding our productions abroad and doing more shows at a higher standard, we would also like to produce our own festival that is aimed at visual works of art and technology.


Algorithm, merrily going around on the merry-go-round outside their office in Smithfield.  The office pooch Alfie.


Tell me more

Algorithm are designing two of the stages for the at the Metropolis Festival  in the RDS on the 7th and 8th of November in The Shelbourne Hall and The Serpentine Hall. You can also see their work every Saturday night in District 8 in Dublin.

Check out pictures and videos of Algorithm's work on their website Algorithm.ie and Facebook.

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