ATOM System is a Work of Art

As an artist, Johniene Papandreas understands the importance of light in art. As a professional scenic designer, she recognizes the importance of light on art. So when Papandreas opened Gallery Voyeur to display her masterpieces, she called on prominent lighting designer John Featherstone of Lightswitch to create an atmosphere that would enhance her paintings and the overall experience of visitors and customers to the Provincetown, Mass. gallery.

Photo cutline: Artist and Gallery Voyeur owner Johniene Papandreas has a preset scene programmed to provide adequate lighting for when she is painting, and a different theatrical look for the work area for when she is not painting. By creating scenes Papandreas can incorporate an “artsy” work space look, into the overall atmosphere and feel of the gallery. (Photos courtesy of Johniene Papandreas/Gallery Voyeur)

Papandreas wanted a system that would provide a great deal of versatility and control, yet was not desperately complicated to program. To satisfy those requests, Featherstone and his assistant Anna Taylor used an ATOM(tm) addressable track system from Lightolier, which allows the artist to control the intensity of each individual luminaire on a track. In addition to providing a high degree of control over individual fixtures, ATOM can also be configured in a “master slave” set-up, allowing Papandreas to tweak the settings to suit her taste as she re-arranges paintings within the gallery.

“The ATOM system allows her to balance the lighting, and she’s ultimately the person to be doing it because she’s the artist, and she knows the way it should be lit,” said Featherstone. “It gives her the ability to easily reprogram, providing the same kind of functionality she would otherwise get from a fairly complicated distributed outlet-type system. But she can do it fixture-by-fixture over regular track.”

The flexibility and functionality of ATOM also allows Papandreas to program preset scenes into the system. With the touch of a single button, the system automatically adjusts to the programmed scene to create a specific atmosphere within the exhibit area. Gallery Voyeur is a large, open gallery, approximately 3,200 square feet of space. The major areas are the windows, the artist work space and the walls. Although the lighting is mostly all open white, Papandreas can achieve a good degree of color temperature shift as she adjusts the intensity of the individual fixtures.

Because the windows allow in very bright sunlight during the day, the ambient light makes it more difficult to see the paintings. To compensate for the additional ambient light, Papandreas programs the system to keep the lights brighter during the daytime hours. She also has a “dusk” setting and an “evening” setting for when Gallery Voyeur is closed, providing a very theatrical look for window-shoppers and those who pass by the gallery.

“The ability to control the individual luminaires is really important,” Papandreas said. “During the day, you still need the punch light, but not as much full light, so I can leave the punch light at a certain level and take the fill light down just by changing my presets. That’s a really nice feature of the ATOM system.”

In addition to displaying her paintings as for sale exhibits, Papandreas has a work space within the gallery where she paints. She has programmed a preset scene to provide adequate lighting for when she is painting, and a different theatrical look for the work area for when she is not painting. By creating scenes Papandreas can incorporate an “artsy” work space look, into the overall atmosphere and feel of the gallery.

“I’m really enjoying the ATOM system,” Papandreas said. “It’s great to have a preset scene where I can just touch the button and the lights adjust to the proper scene.”

Because Papandreas is limited by the amount of wall space, the size of the art collecting being exhibited will not get any larger. However, new works are added to the collection regularly, requiring Papandreas to rearrange the artwork often. The flexibility of the ATOM system allows her to quickly and easily change the lighting to fit the exhibit.

“Without the ATOM system, it would be a lot more complicated,” Papandreas said. “This makes it very simple. I’ve got one line of track, and it’s a single circuit. We’ve broken the circuitry into three areas, so that I can control it differently. But with ATOM, I don’t have to have different circuits in the track itself.”

When Featherstone began planning the lighting design and system for Gallery Voyeur, he thought the appropriate solution would be a wall-dimmer system, or at best a graphic eye set-up that would allow Papandreas to set intensity levels for an entire rack, rather than for individual fixtures. Neither system would have provided the flexibility and functionality she enjoys with the ATOM system.

“When we originally designed it, we thought we were going to put in framing projectors and be very specifically framed to individual paintings,” Papandreas said. “As it worked out, we installed regular Lightolier track heads that give me different beam spreads, because I like the glow on the wall around the paintings. Just by changing the direction of the light and the intensity of the individual fixtures, I can accommodate any piece of artwork or any exhibit design that I set up.”

“ATOM has exceeded our expectations,” Featherstone said. “It works well because in a modest facility like Gallery Voyeur, you don’t have the ability to put in either a centralized or distributed dimming system. The ability to control and set intensity levels for individual fixtures was something Johniene was delighted to find affordable.”

You might say the ATOM system was a true work of art.

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