Mark Boyle and Joan Hill pioneered new light-show techniques in the UK. Boyle, a poet, and Hill, a painter turned film editor (not to mention chef), worked with their children Sebastian Boyle and Georgia Boyle under various names, including the Institute of Contemporary Archaeology, the Sensual Laboratory (with John Claxton), and, ultimately, the Boyle Family. Boyle embraced all materials in his art. As he put it in a statement in June 1965, "My ultimate object is to include everything. In the end the only medium in which it will be possible to say everything will be reality. I mean that each thing, each view, each smell, each experience is material I want to work with."
In 1966, Boyle and Hill began performing Son et Lumiere for Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Son et Lumiere was made up of Boyle and Hill engineering a series of chemical and physical reactions related to the four elements. These reactions, made without additional stirring or mixing by the artists, were projected on screen in real time, accompanied by the amplified sounds of the process. Rocks and sand were corroded and crystallized, materials were set ablaze, air was pushed through liquids, ice was melted, and water boiled. Later performances made use of multiple screens, which would show the "induced reactions" in color and "observed phenomena" in black-and-white on another.
The Boyle Family followed this up with the more radical Son et Lumiere for Bodily Fluids and Functions, in which saliva, snot, semen, tears, and vomit were produced by the performers and projected onscreen.
Soft Machine provided the soundtrack for the twenty-minute Sensual Laboratory film Beyond Image (1969), a wonderfully hypnotic and vibrant film of their projections. Beyond Image is not a document of a performance. Rather, it is a carefully constructed film in which the group filmed a number of their dye mixtures before shooting other sequences in reverse and building up the image via double exposure. This was no off-the-cuff undertaking--it was rigorously planned and followed a "script" calling for different sequences and effects. The switching of forward and backward motion in the film has led to its occasionally being projected first forward, and then backward. William Fowler, Curator of Artists' Moving Image at the BFI, has noted that the film was also shown with the cheekily titled Son of Beyond Image, which the group shot according to the same plan as the other film but with different materials. The Boyle Family has shown both films on two projectors each (for a total of four) onto a wraparound screen to create an immersive film experience. What was lost in terms of the film's immediacy is balanced by the layers of superimpositions built up in the film's editing, resulting in one of the most expansive and visually deep examples of the form. Boyle had earlier worked on Jack Bond's proto-feminist Separation (1968), in which he projected "melting slides" onto Jane Arden and her lover during the otherwise black-and-white film's few color scenes.