Purchased in 2020 by art curator Max Levai, The Ranch is now Montauk NY’s newest high-profile art exhibition space – a destination worthy of the Hamptons and the area’s reputation as a gathering place for America’s pop-culture icons.

K-array Kscape Rail system in the West Barn GalleryLevai’s vision for The Ranch was for it to be a truly modern space that exploits today’s technology to enhance the audience’s appreciation of the art on display. To this end, Levai enlisted K-array and New York-based integrator Global Audio Systems to design and install sophisticated audio and lighting for the 2,500sq-ft West Barn gallery. The system design includes a portable PA system for additional sound reinforcement.

Together with architect Greg Tietjen, Levai envisaged lighting that would be evocative of Montauk’s natural light and sound that would enhance the gallery experience – without being visually or sonically obtrusive. Both solutions had to be dynamic to adapt to the changing demands of exhibitions and events throughout the seasons.

Having assessed the room’s 6m-high ceiling – which could prove acoustically troubling, especially when combined with a lighting design that would become a feature of the space – K-array USA and Global Audio Systems decided they would need to treat the corridors and hallways as separate areas due to the contrasting dimensions and sound level requirements.

‘The main gallery space with its wood-clad walls and ceilings offered us the opportunity to fill the space not only with downlight, but also the option to light the space through the use of indirect uplighting. Adding discreet loudspeakers into the same unobtrusive Rail system, enabled us to offer a truly immersive experience,’ says K-array President, Rusty Waite.

The K-array Kscape Rail system combines audio and lighting into one visually low-profile package. Each individual Rail fixture measures 1.2m in length and is equipped with LED lighting; most, but not all, of the Rails installed at The Ranch also carry loudspeakers for sound reinforcement. In the main gallery of the West Barn, 30 Rail fixtures are hung pendant-style from the ceiling.

‘With the vaulted ceiling having a maximum height of 18ft, pendant hanging of the whole Rail system with minimal aviation cable was very important,’ Waite says. ‘We wanted to ensure that the whole structure felt like it was floating in space and not blocking any of the possible wall space. The tracks are very slim and, therefore, very pleasing to the eye, even in pendant style.’

The Ranch art galleryTwenty-four of the 30 Rail units are carry sound reinforcement, arranged in two parallel rows of 12 that run along the long sides of the room to create a full stereo system. Two K-array Kommander-KA24 amplifiers power the system’s audio components. They offer DSP and four channels of distributed audio each. One amplifier channel can handle 12 of the Rails in sync with each other.

The approach to the lighting was trifold due to the uplighting configuration available on Rail. As the barn structure has vaulted ceilings, uplighting offers enough light on its own, as it reflects off the white wooden panels to create a glow above. For the wall, an asymmetric configuration was chosen to enhance any artwork while four spotlight tracks are positioned on each side of the lighting structure to light the middle areas in any position with an easy turn of the spot itself.

In the corridors, the audio and lighting had to be hidden in order to provide more space for the art. Each corridor is equipped with 12 Rail fixtures that are flush mounted into the ceiling with a waveguide for the audio. They provide a mix of symmetrical downlight and electric spots, all with Dali (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) control for individual control.

The Ranch provides a fine example of how the right background music and lighting can not only complement artwork on display, but also help to immerse the audience in the feeling that the art seeks to create.

‘As soon as the lights were turned on for the first time, Max was convinced that he had made the right choice,’ Waite says. ‘The fact that you can hear the sound but have no idea where it is coming from gives Max and his team a chance to create a really unique experience.’

‘The natural light in Montauk was our inspiration for the lighting system – it is really what makes this area so special and what we aspired to capture but, in a traditional barn, the goal was to achieve a solution that was versatile and could be tailored to the needs of the wide variety of artwork we will exhibit,’ adds Levai. ‘K-array provided us with extreme latitude in adjusting the lights for the changing demands of the lighting conditions each unique body of work requires.

‘The lighting is, of course, critical in allowing a work of art to shine and exemplify the small surface details that might be hard to see. One thing I was struck by was the way that the lights brought out elements of paintings I’m extremely familiar with but had not seen under other conditions.’

More: www.k-array.com

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