Jean-François Charles

Production Team

Composer: Jean-François Charles

Lighting/ Media Design: Will Borich

Sound Design: Jean-François Charles


Site Specific


Fall 2019

Budget for this Design Area


Comments by the Designer

The first piece of the University of Iowa’s 2019 Scientific Concert, Petrasonic is a musical exploration into the life cycle of a rock. The result of a year-long collaboration, this “rock concert” was an interdepartmental collaboration between the School of Music, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the Department of Theatre Arts. Composed as a piece for percussion and double bass about the geological uniqueness of the state of Iowa, the music was enhanced by the use of dramatic lighting, a live narrator, and media projection mapped onto the surfaces of the stone percussion instruments.

My media design incorporated a mix of content that I had created from pictures of petrographic slides underneath a microscope, as well as a live feed camera from that microscope with those same slides. During the performance, the microscope was manipulated by a performer from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences as to create a rotational movement of geologic texture on the various stone instruments that the percussionist was engaging with. To give Petrasonic a sense of dynamic progression from beginning to end, while the audience took their seats before the concert started, I made the stone instruments appear as if they were lava, then showcased the actual petrographic slides underneath the microscope and manipulating their image slightly in order to match the dynamic flow of the piece, and then ending with the stones transforming into crystal. My media design illustrated the life cycle and development of rocks as they go from raw and coarse, to hardened and refined. In order for my media to be effective, I designed the lighting so that no light would hit the performers from the front, thus not washing out the image from the projector.

Overall, this was an amazing project that I was very passionate about as it catered to my musical background, as well as love for art being used as an educational tool. In retrospect, I am not sure that I could have improved on the performance, due to the result of my lighting and media design succeeding more than I thought it would on the day of our performances. In my dream world however, I would have loved the opportunity to design my own light plot to use in the space that would allow for more isolation between the performers and musical instruments. The lighting rep plot that is used in the space did not cater to my ideal aesthetic for the performance, due to the non-traditional set up of musical instruments.

Student Type



Copyright 2019 William Borich