Bruce Munro Makes Nature Better with Light, Again


World-renowned light artist Bruce Munro is back on the scene with an installation at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum, Nashville, Tennessee – and once again, he’s taken some color, a smidge of light, and improved upon the night time viewing of life in the park.  When asked about his experience in the park, Bruce Munro had this to say:

‘during my first visit to cheekwood earlier in the year, I had a visceral reaction to the scale and positioning of the estate’s buildings. they are at one with the landscape, breeding a sense of understated balance and harmony that truly inspired me and undoubtedly permeates the visitor experience,’ said munro. ‘this is the most perfect place to exhibit because it provides a variety of opportunities to respond to – each space varies in both scale and topographical character. in addition, cheekwood’s world class exhibition galleries are a veritable jewel in its crown. I feel lucky and privileged to install my work at this prestigious and beautiful estate.’

What do you think?  Leave a comment on the post, tell the world what you think about this installation!





The Cheekwood site has a lot of great information about the installation, including the what-and-wheres of the pieces.  From the Cheekwood website:

Mansion Lawn and surrounding gardens/Field of Light
At the center of the exhibition’s many installations will be the Field of Light, which submerges the viewer within a landscape of 20,000 lighted glass spheres, each rising from the ground on a slender stem.This is the largest Field of Light expanse Munro has ever created in a rolling landscape, and is designed to utilise the existing pathways in the garden to allow people to wander through it and view it from various different perspectives.

Materials: Frosted glass spheres, acrylic rods mounted on stakes, bare optic fiber, halogen light sources with hand-painted color wheels

Japanese Bamboo Garden/Fireflies

Hundreds of cool white Fireflies will be installed throughout the bamboo leading into Cheekwood’s Japanese garden, creating a magical space of illuminated springs amongst the bamboo.

Materials: Copper tube, brass stakes, acrylic polymer fiber optic cable

Japanese Garden Pavilion/Candlelight
Visitors will have just exited the bamboo garden and the Fireflies when they arrive at the pavilion in the Japanese Garden. Candlelight will introduce something architectural in form and warm in color temperature. Hundreds of flickering LED candle luminaires will make the pavilion become an illuminated stage.

Materials: Treated timber, stainless steel fixings, LED candle luminaires

Japanese Garden Dry Lake/Blue Moon
The dry lake within the Japanese garden is an intimate space, set in a valley of rounded hills. The Blue Moon is 5’ in diameter and will appear as a giant hovering moon of flickering icy blues.

Materials: Clear acrylic spheres and acrylic polymer fiber, stainless steel

Robertson Ellis Color Garden/Water-Towers
Water-Towers is comprised of 40 structures built out of one-litre recyclable plastic bottles filled with water, laser-cut wood layers, and fiber optics connected to an LED projector and sound system. This installation beckons visitors to immerse themselves in the spaces between the towers to explore the spectacle of light and sounds.

Materials: LEDs, fiber optics, new one-litre PET bottles, audio system

Mustard Meadow/Light Reservation
Light Reservation is an assembly of tipi-like structures made from spent fluorescent tubes on an expanse of Cheekwood’s lawn by the ponds.

Materials: Redundant 60w fluorescent tubes, 12v electric fence modules, polymer filters, polycarbonate tubes

Reflection Pool/Fagin’s Urchins
Fagin’s Urchins are a site-specific installation created for the formal reflection pool at Cheekwood. Sap green spheres are positioned centrally in a line close to the water’s surface across the reflection pool. By night the surface of each sphere becomes an illuminated Lilliputian world of the night.

Materials: Polycarbonate, acrylic polymer fiber optics, stainless steel

Cheekwood’s Mansion Loggia/ Light Shower
The double height of the iconic Loggia in the Cheekwood mansion offers a wonderful opportunity for Munro to create a site specific installation of the Light Shower, an installation of 1,650 teardrop-shaped diffusers suspended from the ceiling by fiber-optic strands.

Materials: Acrylic diffuser drops, powder-coated mild steel, acrylic polymer fiber

Cheekwood’s Mansion Rotunda Staircase/Bell Drop Chandelier
The stunning rotunda staircase in the Cheekwood mansion will be transformed with the beautiful Bell Drop Chandelier. A cascade of fiber optic cables terminates in a miniature conical brass bell shade approximately seven feet from the ground floor level.

Materials: Brass, powder-coated mild steel, acrylic polymer fiber optic

Cheekwood’s Museum of Art Galleries/Exhibition
A gallery in the Museum of Art will be dedicated to small-scale works and videos from Bruce Munro.







Thanks, DesignBoom!

The Daily Lamp – Light Forest, from Ontwerpduo

Today’s Daily Lamp just blows my mind — meet Light Forest from Ontwerpduo, which consists of Tineke Beunders and Nathan Wierink of the Netherlands.

From Tineke and Nathan’s catalogue page for Light Forest (ps, it’s a PDF link):

On the ceiling or on the wall,
Light Forest grows where other lights will not go.
As a climbing plant the system spreads itself through
the space, to give light with its calyxes.
Using obstacles, height differences, beams,
 flat walls and ceilings, the lighting system is installed.
Small and geometrical or large and chaotic.
Custom made for each space.

So Ontwerpduo comes in and does each of these installations to fit the space that they’re going to live within — I call that some excellent design!  Check out this beauty — or at least some examples of it, as each one is customized:




Something I find kind of awesome — the designers posted their prices online too for this custom install:


I also adore the text they add in the catalogue that explains the install process:

1.  Ontwerpduo makes a composition of Light Forest directly in the designated space. Together with the customer we discuss possibilities and wishes, and we will make a layout of Light Forest in the space with tape. In this way it will be clear how the lamp will be positioned in the space. After approval this composition will be measured. In the workshop of Ontwerpduo the lamp is made. Then we visit again to place Light Forest permanently onthe wall and/or ceiling.

2. Ontwerpduo receives the customer’s dimensions of the space, possibl y supplemented by photographs.  Based on these measurements and the wishes of the customer we make a visualization of Light Forest. This composition is discussed and may be adjusted.  After approval, the lamp is made in the workshop of Ontwerpduo. Then we come with Light Forest to the space, and we will place the lamp to the wall and/ or ceiling.

3. Starts with the same procedure as No 2. but we don’t place the final lamp ourselves. Light Forest will be shipped with instructions, and the client assembles Light Forest himself in the space.

Lovely, Ontwerpduo.  I am a huge fan of this piece!

Aron Altmark Painted the Town Red, and It Was Good


On April 20, Aron Altmark Painted the Town of Birmingham, Alabama Red.  It was good.

From the videos I got from Aron, it was really good.  Since the first post about Aron’s IndieGogo funding campaign, I’ve been excited to post about what he did, and that it benefitted the American Red Cross, which is also excellent.  Light for Enjoyment AND helping people in the process is what I am all about lately.  Sometimes you just have to use photons for happiness.

I emailed Aron and asked him about this adventure, links and bolding are mine:

All of this was for Paint the Town Red, an annual digital arts festival that turns downtown Birmingham into a giant media canvas for digital artists. We had a projection-mapped dome with a silent rave in it, many small installations featuring local light artists, a projection-mapped Mini Cooper, fire dancers, trapeze artists, and of course my two large installations. I was the featured artist this year and flew in from LA to do the show.

My main work was a Kinect hack utilizing a video camera, depth sensor, and custom applications — this setup allowed any of the festival attendees to walk into a “stage” area and interact with their digital proxy, projected thirty feet high via a 10K HD projector. It was a bit of an interactive painting game (with a healthy does of DanceDanceRevolution), with realtime input of up to six users. In addition to this, about every half hour my good friend and amazingly talented dancer Erica Thornton put on a performance for the crowd. For the performances, I ran a different custom application that tracked Erica’s left and right hands and created particle systems based on speed and motion, with audio-reactive elements built in as well. Both applications were controlled by a custom UI on an iPad.

Of course, we also had a giant laser graffiti setup going — this one five stories high and about 100 feet wide using a 15K projector + 50mW laser pointer. The citizens of Birmingham came out and made their mark on the city, with messages ranging from the ever-present “Roll Tide” to “I Believe in Birmingham”. The entire event was put on to raise money for the Birmingham-Jefferson Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Aron, you’re awesome.  Let’s check out some videos!

The Multi-user Kinect station:

Paint The Town Red – Kinect Station Multi-User from aronaltmark on Vimeo.

The Single-user Kinect Station, with a dancer:

Paint The Town Red – Kinect Station from aronaltmark on Vimeo.

The Single-user Kinect station, again:

Paint The Town Red – Kinect Station from aronaltmark on Vimeo.

The 3 photos here and all of the videography in this post comes from AK Photo (, who is Asher Krell from Birmingham, Alabama.  Great work, AK!



Thanks to Aron for letting me know about the work!

The Daily Lamp – Full-Size Human Lamps from Al Hamad Design

Today’s Daily Lamp is a pretty awesome (at least to me!) selection of actual human-sized mannequin lamps from Al Hamad Design in Kuwait — and when I say actual human-sized, I mean that the lamp is a standing version of a person with a lampshade where there should be a head.  Oh, and to turn the lamp on?  You shake its hand.  Check it out:


From the Al Hamad Design website on Embarakiya, the line’s name:

Embarakiya are human floor lamps dressed in traditional Kuwaiti wardrobe.  The lamp shades are upholstered in the actual fabric of the headdress.  Each of these lamps features a touch sensor in the hand with three dimmer settings.  Shake hands and the lamp will turn on.  The men include a built-in speaker in the torso.

Well I sure the hell have never seen anything like this before!  Embarakiya lamps have a fiberglass body, real fabric covering, and have cultural significance as they’re modeled on Kuwaiti clothing.  There’s a standing man lamp, a standing woman lamp, a woman lamp sitting, and a standing child lamp.  This is certainly different than any lamp I’ve ever seen!



I’ve read nothing but article after article on these lamps that says they’re creepy.  Do you agree?  I think they’re awesome!


Infra, A TV Built from Remote Controls from TVs


All of the remotes in the world that wind up getting lost in couches and/or accidentally stuck in the refrigerator are all cheering right now, mostly because Chris Shen has turned the tables for them. Meet Chris Shen‘s installation called Infra, which is composed of 625 re-purposed remote controls hooked into a Peggy and made to broadcast low-res live TV, albeit in infrared:

INFRA by Chris Shen from Chris Shen on Vimeo.

625 discarded remote controls, repurposed to broadcast live television using the infrared LEDs inside each device. Creating an infrared display invisible to the naked eye. When viewed through infrared goggles, the light becomes visible and the low resolution TV broadcast can be seen.

A TV made from remote controls.

Exhibited at 18 Hewett Street, London – January 2013
More info:


Awesome. The also equally awesome compadres over at Evil Mad Scientist Labs also got Chris to talk a bit about how he made everything work — which these guys are really, really, really good at doing! Chris Shen used a modified Peggy 2 from the Evil Mad Scientists’ Lab — the Peggy 2 is a pegboard-kind of system that can drive 625 LEDs into a display. Chris modified his Peggy 2 with Molex connectors and then again on each remote so they could be plugged directly into the Peggy 2.



I love being a nerd.  We are inheriting the Earth.


Something extra cool — an interview with Chris about Infra at Post New.

One Hundred Live and Die from Bruce Nauman

Another statement from an artist I’m seeing now as a cross between VIcki DaSilva and Dan Flavin — Bruce Nauman’s work, One Hundred Live and Die, is absolutely chilling to me:


From the post at The Fox is Black:

One Hundred Live and Die is what many consider to be Nauman’s masterpiece. Sad and hopeful, One Hundred flickers through each possible flippant, mundane, and tragic way to live or die in a blaze of neon exuberance. Each phrase (“LAUNCH AND LIVE,” “FALL AND DIE,” “SPIT AND LIVE,” etc.) light the room with its orange, blue, white, or whatever color it may be. It paints the room and provides a surprisingly profound commentary on life, telling a story with each phrase, reiterating just how fucked up life can be (which may elicit tears, laughter, or blank stares). In the end, One Hundred resonates with all one hundred phrases lit, blindingly beautiful and a little overwhelming.


Illustrations for An Asteroid Novel

I saw these on 50 Watts, and I was just taken aback at how accurately the light in each scene was sketched. I mean seriously – check these out and tell me if you don’t have an exact idea as to how to light every one of these plates!

These are from a book called Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel (1913) by Austrian illustrator Alfred Kubin  (1877- 1959):

First published in German in 1913 and widely considered to be Paul Scheerbart’s masterpiece, Lesabéndio is an intergalactic utopian novel that describes life on the planetoid Pallas, where rubbery suction-footed life forms with telescopic eyes smoke bubble-weed in mushroom meadows under violet skies and green stars. Amid the conveyor-belt highways and lighthouses weaving together the mountains and valleys, a visionary named Lesabéndio hatches a plan to build a 44-mile-high tower and employ architecture to connect the two halves of their double star. A cosmic ecological fable, Scheerbart’s novel was admired by such architects as Bruno Taut and Walter Gropius, and such thinkers as Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem (whose wedding present to Benjamin was a copy of Lesabéndio). Benjamin had intended to devote the concluding section of his lost manuscript The True Politician to a discussion of the positive political possibilities embedded in Scheerbart’s “Asteroid Novel.” As translator Christina Svendsen writes in her introduction, “Lesabéndio helps us imagine an ecological politics more daring than the conservative politics of preservation, even as it reminds us that we are part of a larger galactic set of interrelationships.”

So it’s not light Musical Theatre reading is the general gist…














Being able to sketch out light is so essential for Lighting Designers; I think that rendering digitally and pre-viz have perhaps caused a lack of teaching of this skill.  It’s also not a skill that I never really mastered, which was why I learned how to do it on a computer.  Ah, the circle of life…

LEDs, Lady Gaga Smell-Well, and Projections at Nuit Blanche 2012

Did you go to Nuit Blanche 2012 in Toronto in October?  Laura and I did, and we took some photos that I’m just now able to get to after the trade show season.  I spoke with lots of people on the street at Nuit Blanche this year, and everyone seemed to have a great time — the only thing that was a bit hard to manage was the influx of people that were present downtown for this event.  There were some awesome exhibits and light installations — but anything interactive was pretty much mobbed with people and hard to really get a sense of the artists’ messages.  Regardless, it was a lot of fun!  Check out some photos below, and experience my entire trip with the photo gallery at the bottom!

There were some fun words at the top of this post that describe how f*cked up some of the Nuit Blanche-goers got, it’s worth a quick peek.  It’s totally true — lack of organization, and a real lack of general community.  Read the post.

As we walked by the Hudson’s Bay Company in Toronto we noticed this freaky storefront window scene that we had to stop and check out — and it was Lady Gaga’s perfume on display.  That’s some pretty crazy perfume marketing, huh!  I definitely liked the design enough to take photos…

Lady Gaga's Smellwell


Apparently this perfume makes you smell like a psycho mad scientist:

Lady Gaga Does Window Displays

Oh, officially of course Lady Gaga had nothing to do with Nuit Blanche, but her display was part of MY Nuit Blanche, so that’s why it’s here!

Something that we saw but didn’t really get a chance to experience was Beam of Underground Sun by Arezoo Talebzadeh and Kaveh Ashourinia — ostensibly, they had taken some very bright LED sources and put them down under the street at several meters down.  Arezoo and Kaveh also added some powerful fans and some silk cloth under the street to give the effect of waves of light being cast up through the grate they chose in the street.  Check this one out, it is beautiful, especially with the photos of no people around it:


This, however, is what the real Nuit Blanche Beam of Underground Sun experience was, which was different than intended I assume but had its own jua de vive, if you will:

It was still beautiful, just mobbed with people standing directly in the way of the beam and the overall everything of the piece.




You can kind of see down into the shaft with the fan, the fabric, and the LED units:


It was pretty cool to be standing in an intersection of Bloor Street with no one trying to honk at me or run me down!



Probably one of the coolest things I saw this year at Nuit Blanche was the installation called Planes by Tricia Brown Dance Company — and it was awesome!




…and behind the walls you can see a little behind-the-scenes action!  I almost didn’t want to see this — the movement of the dancers and the projections themselves were so riveting that seeing the how-to took away from it for me.  Ah, the life of making mystery for the audience!


Check out the Gallery View below of the Nuit Blanche event in Toronto — and check out the official Scotiabank page on Nuit Blanche so you can see the intended (and actual) views of the art from this year’s show!

The Best Use of Light and Shadow is Love

Fabrizio Corneli made a shadow and a reflection into a light statement of love.  Meet AMA, which means love in italiano:

Is that not just awesome or what?!  Shadow propagation and reflections all calculated so that they spell the word love.  I think that’s the best use of light and shadow together I’ve seen lately.

Check out Fabrizio’s website, he’s got fun work there!