Topic 3 – Interactive Light

Alexandre Saunier, Helmetron, Interactive light apparatus,
Eniarof festival, Aix-en-Provence, novembre 2013
Photo : Manuel Braun


Multimedia traditionally meant the combination of images, sound and words in an interactive environment. Today, light has emerged as a medium in its own right, which can be combined as such with the more traditional media and put to use in an interactive setting. Indeed, light may very well be the new dimension par excellence of interactive media to come. Photographs and projected images already pointed in this direction. But recently light has found a new expression, with new technologies such as the LEDs used for advertising and lighting, or laser technology.
Up until now, there has been very little attention paid to the direct role played by light in the most advanced interactive set-ups. There has been little investigation of the operative relation between light and the spaces in which it is diffused, and the bodies and actions that inhabit these spaces.
Lighting technicians work with sophisticated lighting consoles, and usually control the lighting from beyond the stage and in sequences. Visual artists, on the other hand, have attempted a more interactive use of light with video projection. But while the technology of video projection allows for great control, it does not have the quality of more traditional light sources (light bulbs, fluorescent lights, halogen lamps, HMI lamps, leds, etc.).

Our project looks at images and light in combination. Our aim is to create interactive image scripts incorporating light. This approach implies looking at images no longer as two-dimensional surfaces but as spaces and volumes, whose boundaries we must redefine and for which we must devise new modalities of control and transformation.
Light is much more than a tool for projecting two-dimensional images onto surfaces. It spreads into space and has a plasticity. Our project looks at light’s spatial dimension, addressing its ability to create an environment in which the audience is immersed. We consider light as a body existing in space, a tangible medium to explore. At the same time, we investigate the interactive dimension of this material, imagining devices and set-ups which will enable a real-time active correlation between light and the bodies it surrounds and the various sites where it unfolds: the stage, the exhibition space, the home, and the urban environment.

Project Close your Eyes
Interactive installation, 2010
Tomek Jarolim