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creative:impact-Mike Gould And His Expanding World Of Laser Art

Aug 7, 2018

"L is for Laser" Display
Credit Mike Gould / mikegouldlaserartist.com

When people think of lasers, they usually think of things like laser pointers, corrective eye surgery, or epic battles in a science-fiction movie.  But one Ann Arbor native has found ways to make lasers into art.  Mike Gould, co-founder of Illuminatus Lasers, joins WEMU's David Fair and Arts Alliance CEO Deb Polich to talk about his craft in this week's "creative:impact."


Deb Polich, President and CEO of The Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.   

About Mike Gould

Mike Gould
Credit Mike Gould / mikegouldlaserartist.com

Mike is co-founder and head honcho of Illuminatus Lasers.  Illuminatus Lasers consists of bold and daring creatives who think up laser devices, build them, haul them around, set them up, fire them up, tear them down, and haul them back to the Illuminatus Lasers secret, sacred whirled headquarters, located just South of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Gould, along with co-founder Wayne Gillis, established the lightshow back in 1974.

Mike creates and Photoshops most of the graphics seen in the Illuminatus video displays.  He serves as photographer, webmaster, poster designer, and cat-herder.  He also designed and built 90% of the laser devices seen in the shows.

Mike and Illuminatus have won three ILDA awards - The International Laser Display Association (ILDA), founded in August 1986, is the world's leading organization dedicated to advancing the use of laser displays in the fields of art, entertainment and education.

Mike has won the Most Innovative Application in the Artistic Award in 2013 and two laser-based music video awards including this one created in the summer of 2015 with local filmmakers Donald Harrison and Tom Bray.  

At the award ceremony, Mike said:

We won this award largely on the strength of our unique use of Lumia, a type of laser display featuring colorful wispy abstract swirls.  We also used conventional laser beams and shapes, and were able to combine all this with a singer and dancers into a coherent three-minute music video.

The video was shot in Mike’s studio and around the pond in his backyard and features a laser projector he built into an antique lunchbox.

Supernatural Film "Hereditary" features Mike Gould’s Lasers

The movie concerns a family haunted by evil.  Shot partially on location at a Salt Lake City high school, the film is called Hereditary.  The Director of Photography, Pawel Pogorzelski, found Mike on Google by searching for “laser artist.”  If you do so, my site comes up first after two or three craftspeople offering laser engravings.

Pawel (Pa-VEL) described the effect he was looking for and Mike was able to offer a solution, which involved expensive lasers, software and home-made photonic hardware. The hero is walking down a school corridor, and a mysterious light appears and scans down the hallway, overtaking him and disappearing into a classroom door.  This mystery light was dubbed “Tinkerbell” and appears (and disappears) in several places in the movie.

Resources:

Illuminatus Lasers

Mike Gould-Laser Artist

"Hereditary" Trailer

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu