April and I looked into what already exists in light installations and sculptures that involve the audience activating lights.
Floating Lights is an installation made of lights with a high level of interaction. Developed by Travesias de Luz, it was created for La Fête des Lumières, 2012 in Lyon.
The installation is designed as a game for all ages of the public, whereby you are invited to touch the central part of the 100 light tubes and have fun powering on and off each light. People used this system to write messages or words and create imagery as well as enjoying the overall experience.
Introducing this element of participation makes the design a lot more of a digital project as well as maintaining the main physical element. It also gives the installation a sense of fun and with that comes the concept of play. I can get caught up in ideas sometimes, with the meaning behind them, concentrating on the purpose. However, working with April and looking at these projects has reminded me to refer to the brief and keep that element of play in mind. Play may not necessarily mean a game or something that is 100% fun, but I do think that there needs to be an element of interaction, which sparks interest and curiosity in the audience.
That element of interaction could be very simple, like in this example, Cloud. Cloud is simply a study of light; a study in the form of a physical object that has been transported around the world to different communities and cultures resulting in various styles of collaboration. This experiment asked people to unlearn the notion of “Please Do Not Touch” when it comes to artwork, asking the audience to interact. In fact the experiment required participation, Cloud is only half complete without people.
This project represented the themes of:
- Momentary spaces
- Meaning in the darkness
- Importance of society
This project questioned what light means.
- Humans are drawn to light like moths to a flame
- The sun is the origin of all life on earth
- Artificial light wouldn’t exist without man
- Light is a symbol of civilization
- Light is a source of clarity at night
- Light is a beacon of safety
- We use light as a language (green=go)
- Light causes light pollution
- Light pollution effects the natural environment
- Places can be lost without light
The real meaning behind the study is:
- Cloud is an icon of hope, optimism and collective action, bringing people toegther
- This can be seen from: “the viewers standing together beneath the sculpture with glittering eyes and spontaneous smiles, enthusiastically tugging at pull chains.”
As a result of this project creators Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett began discussing the importance of temporary public art. They touch on the effect it has on the social dynamic of spaces as well as the connection that individuals feel with the art when they say:
“Within professional art circles, interactive art is sometimes criticized for being too appealing, accessible, and so caught up in notions of entertainment that it neglects the meat of a concept. This can be the case, but interactive work also provides a tangible, real-world, interpersonal connection, building relationships and consequences that touch people deeply because they are permitted to touch it.”
“Nuit Blanche is not just about showcasing contemporary public artworks, but about unifying a critical mass of people using art as a catalyst for renewed vision of the world. By transforming places for short periods of time, public art incites playful re-imagination of communal spaces, challenging their function, and exciting potential for ongoing change and re-growth. Art creates an access point for the city; the city creates an access point for art.”
Originally when April showed me this project, I was drawn in by the simplicity of Cloud and how it encouraged collective play. However, the more I have looked into it, I have discovered the complexity of what Cloud stands for and I am now transfixed with the deeper concept of the project and the ideas that Brown and Garrett study and portray through their work, in particular their ideas regarding the use of temporary public art that involves participation.
These are the types of ideas that I think should drive a project forward, with the concept and the meaning shaping the more physical elements of the design. Therefore, I intend to discuss these further with April and begin to consider how we could reinterpret these ideas.