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May 13, 2021

The Lab Rats want to take you to Mars

A creative collective at Light’s high-tech performance venue The Lab has developed an immersive audio-visual performance that will take you on an interstellar journey to Mars.

  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Jack Fenby

This Saturday at The Lab, those with a ticket to Life on Mars will be greeted at the door by astronauts, led into an airlock, and welcomed onto a spaceship bound for interplanetary adventure.


Lab Rats presents Life on Mars
Saturday, 15 May
The Lab
63 Light Square, Adelaide 5000
Tickets and more info

Physical props, an all-encompassing beeping-and-blooping soundscape, and purpose-designed visuals on the venue’s 50sqm of LED screens will create an entirely immersive experience.

The work comes from a creative collection of artists from many disciplines who have met and mingled through the venue’s artistic workshop program, Lab Rats.

Led by technically minded creatives Max Brading and Oscar Lewis, who set up much of the tech within The Lab, Lab Rats was created in order to foster a community of artists who could develop an understanding of the venue and artistically explore the unique opportunities its unique attributes provide.

The Lab Rats have gathered together in the space to workshop ideas, and chatted through things on their dedicated Discord server. Life on Mars will be the first major event for the group.

“One of the things that really made me quite happy, it’s the first time I’ve seen members of the group create works specifically for the screens,” Max says.

“When you combine that wraparound vision with the lights in the room, and we’re building soundscapes, and the band will be playing in the corner – you’re in the deck of a spaceship.

“Just seeing somebody make that work in that way, for the space, exactly the right dimensions for the space, is really cool.

“This bit of art will only exist within this space. You can obviously adapt it and take it outside of here, but you’re never going to the experience of something that’s made for the venue.”

The Lab is an immersive and modular arts space in the city’s west


Max came to The Lab after flying into Adelaide to work the 2020 Fringe season as production crew. His boss at the Fringe, Emma Bedford, was also working at the venue and saw that his skills would be useful in getting The Lab up and running.

Oscar’s mum is Anne Wiberg, head of programming at Light, and he has a history of delving into the techier sides of the creative industries.

“I’ve been around the arts my entire life, and done different event work and volunteering for my mother for a very long time,” he says.

“I also… did some work experience with Rising Sun Pictures on Pulteney Street… built myself up in a bunch of different venues, also worked a little bit in beer, of all things… And I’ve always been massively into computers. I’ve been building computers since I was 13 or 14.

“[This project] really unified all the skills together.”

Max and Oscar see themselves as facilitators within the Lab Rats program. The members of the group are invited in to explore the potential of the space creatively, while they work behind the scenes to make sure these ideas can happen as seamlessly as possible.

Life on Mars was an idea brought to Lab Rats by Adelaide artist Miles Dunne, and was developed further within the team.

“We went out to the group saying, ‘Who would like to act? Who would like to script? Who would like to be a part of this shot?’” Oscar recalls.

“And then having the other side of the group really being involved in dressing up and thinking about what music they could match this kind of thing with and what the mood would be, so then all the musicians have jumped on and they’re going to be performing a bunch of songs live, using a bunch of hardware gear, things like that.

“It really blew up into something… then the ball started rolling.”

This Lab Rats gig is a showcase of what is possible when fully utilising the space, but Oscar also just hopes it’ll be a bit of fun – for the artists and audience alike.

“It’s going to be quite unique, and a little bit of a laugh, and we encourage everyone to dress up and have a good time,” he says.

The Lab Rats program is still in its early stages, but Max and Oscar hope to facilitate a gig on the scale of Life on Mars every month.

The duo also hopes to grow the cohort of Lab Rats. Although there’s a waitlist, Max says artists and creatives who are keen to be involved should submit an expression of interest form, available at The Lab’s website.

For more information on Life on Mars, see the event page.

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