Light at the end…

Urban light installations

cstang | 18 July, 2007 11:39

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White Noise / White Light was one of 9 temporary interactive urban installations commissioned and installed for the Athens 2004 Olympics at base of the Acropolis as part of the Catch the Light Program. The project inserted a luminous interactive sound and landscape within the plaza to create a constantly choreographed field in flux. Semi-flexible fiber-optic strands responded to the movement of pedestrians through the field, emitting white light and white noise. Activated by the passersby, the fiber optics transmit light from white LEDs while the speakers below the raised deck emit white noise. Just as white light is made of the full spectrum of light, white noise contains every frequency within the range of hearing in equal amounts. This field of white noise creates a unique sound-scape in the city and masks out the noises from the immediate context, forming a place of sonic refuge within the bustling city. Each stalk unit contains its own passive infrared sensor and microprocessor. If motion is detected, the white LED illumination grows brighter while the white noise increases in volume. Once motion is no longer detected, the microprocessor smoothly decreases the light and fades the sound to silence. The movement of pedestrians creates an afterglow effect in the form of a flickering wake of white light and white noise, trailing and tracing visitors as they cross the field. Depending on the time of day, number of people, and trajectories of movement, the project is constantly being choreographed by the cumulative interaction of the public. The field becomes an unpredictable aggregation of movement, light and sound.


Light installations after Dan Flavin. Also worth a look, check out this installation of washing up bottles.


Labyrinth light

Light is atmosphere.
Regent transforms space in individual work and living places.


    Winter Light for OXO Tower Wharf Bough 1 is a light installation inspired by the tradition common to many cultures of taking evergreens into the home in midwinter. Since prehistory evergreens have been seen as a symbol of life in the depths of winter. Light and fire are used to warm the long nights; we make decorations as we wait for the solstice to pass and days to lengthen again.

    Made on the wall of Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf, Bough 1 is a striking arrangement of coloured Encapsulite fluorescent tubes 17m (55′) high.

    Simon Corder is an artist and designer. He has made several urban light installations at public sites in London, including: St Mary’s Spire (1996), One Canada Square (1997), Liquid Light (LWT Tower, 2001). In 2002 he made ‘Standing Still’ in the ancient forest of Sherwood, a mile long illuminated walk. In 2005 he will make another piece in Nottinghamshire at Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge. Simon is well known for lighting both of the night zoos in the world, in Singapore and China.

    He is a also a lighting designer for the performing arts, specialising in environmental design for site-specific performance, and working with companies as various as The National Theatre, The Cholmondeleys, and La Scala Milan. In 2004 Simon lit Elaine Paige for her ‘No Strings Attached’ tour.

    Louise King of Coin Street Community Builders commented, “Simon Corder was commissioned to develop a lighting installation for Oxo Tower Wharf for the winter season leading up to and beyond the festive period. “The brief was to create a dramatic, contemporary installation that reflected the ethos of Oxo Tower Wharf with its restaurants, design shops and gallery spaces. The installation had to be visible from the riverside walkway, Waterloo Bridge and beyond. Simon’s Bough 1 satisfied the brief completely and we are delighted with it.”

    Simon Corder said: “The installation was commissioned to a very tight schedule by development trust Coin Street Community Builders, owners of Oxo Tower Wharf, to be ready in time for the Lord Mayor’s Parade firework display on 13 November, which attracts thousands of visitors to the South Bank. EncapSulite and Trafalgar Lighting were magnificent in meeting the deadline and delivering the project on time.”


Antony Gormley: Blind Light at The Hayward

The Blind Light installation

The Blind Light installation

Blind Light

Blind Light

Although The Hayward has been filled with some 200 tonnes of sculpture, the biggest talking point will undoubtedly be Blind Light, the luminous glass box filled with mist to which your attention is immediately drawn in the otherwise unlit lower galleries.

It is, says Gormley, “a work in which the viewer becomes the subject”. Comparisons with the various participatory installations in Tate Modern‘s Turbine Hall such as Olafur Eliasson’s 2003 Weather Project are spoiled only by the fact that admission to the Tate is free but it costs £8 to visit The Hayward.

The effect of stepping into the mist is undoubtedly a powerful one as visitors (well, journalists at the press view, at least) instinctively formed an orderly one-way system to file round the edges of the box, keeping one hand on the glass for reassurance.

Gormley says that the exhibition deals with “the dialogue between inside experience and outside experience”.

As well as the site-specific work on nearby rooftops one of the works inside the gallery has a local South Bank connection. Gormley’s 1996 work Allotment II – made up of 300 Concrete blocks based on the dimensions of people aged 1 to 80 – is described by the artist as a “tribute to the National Theatre“. Gormley had contacted the theatre’s architect Denys Lasdun to find out the specifications of the Concrete used for the National and had replicated the same mix for Allotment II.

The upstairs sculpture terraces are the ideal viewing point for Event Horizon. “The people of London didn’t ask to have their skyline infected by 27 foreign bodies,” says Gormley. “Therefore I have a responsibility to tell them my reasons for wanting to cause that infection.”


met some of the grace people for friday late at the V&A. the main draw was volume, an installation which responds to human movement with light and music.
Volume installation in the V&A’s John Madejski Garden ©Supermatic / United Visual Artists Photo: John Adrian

here’s a short video from the queue, complete with grace team comments! Download MOV00006.3GP
here’s one of what it was like when we finally got to move through it – gorgeous but we didn’t get much time as there were so many people wanting to try it. Download MOV00012.3GP

back indoors it was pretty crowded as there were a number of installations and events going on – but the thing that took our fancy was this graffiti wall in the foyer.


Paris, September 25th – October 6th, 2002

Arcade Big EyeArcade is the brand new light installation of Project Blinkenlights. Following up on the original Blinkenlights installation in Berlin, Arcade marks a new step in interactive light installations in public space.

In the context of the Nuit Blanche art festival in Paris, the team transforms the Tower T2 of the Bibliothèque nationale de France into a huge computer screen. With a matrix of 20 x 26 windows (resulting in 520 directly addressable pixels) and a size of 3370m2, the Arcade installation is positioned to be world’s biggest computer screen ever.

Eleven Nights

Arcade Bridge Mona Lisa The installation starts on September 25th, 2002 running eleven nights until the official Nuit Blanche happening at October 5th/6th. During this time span, the installation will present an ever-changing kaleidoscope of animations and interactive applications.

Arcade promotes a new series of classic computer games to run on the building, allowing everybody to play games on the building with his mobile phone. Among others, the all-time favorite pixel puzzle game Tetris can be played using nothing but a mobile phone.

With its newly designed light control technology, the Blinkenlights team is able to smoothly dim the brightness of each pixel. This allows for sophisticated, large-scale animations glowing into the Paris night life.

Public Participation

Arcade Pacman Using the newly created ArcadePaint program – running on Mac OS and Windows operating systems – everybody can start creating his own pictures and animations immediately. The resulting files can be sent to us by e-mail to become part of the ever-growing playlist of animations to be displayed during the lifespan of Arcade.

Programmers might check out opportunities to create animations directly by creating the simple, XML-based file format, which is a natural evolution of the original Blinkenlights Movies file format.

C experts interested in creating interactive games and applications for Arcade might want to check out the Blinkenlights Library (blib). The programming is comparably simple. If you have any results, send them to us (see below).


2 Responses to “Light at the end…”

  1. 1 mragrotime
    November 21, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Hey Rabia, your site is cool stuff, you seem like a good photographer and are very pretty as well =)

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