The role of light in interactive installation

“Natural warm light can enhance happiness and relieve depression”,

Research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology shows that the more intense the lighting, the greater a person’s emotions — both positive and negative. —that is, low light environment is conducive to stable mood, and can reduce emotionalization. Moreover, researchers noted that the bright light’s ability to make people feel warmer could have something to do with increasing the intensity of their emotions, because light underlies perception of heat, and perception of heat can trigger the hot emotional system.

As the artist Caitlind R.C. Brown said, “CLOUD” was a study of light–its magical ability to create ephemeral space, its resonance in the darkness, and its societal importance. On a physiological level, human beings are drawn to light as moths to a flame. Artificial light is an evidence of civilization, a source of clarity at night, and a beacon of safety. We use artificial light in cities as a language (green means go), to the point where it is now socially intuitive. The value of artificial light is especially pronounced in places where electric light has been lost, or never existed at all.

Inversely, over-lighting our cities is also problematic, saturating our visual environments with neon signs and flashing billboards.(Caitlind r.c. Brown,2014)
  • light & exchange(strangers)

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For the theme of hope and optimism, Caitlind R.C. Brown and Wayne Garrett built an installation to discuss the power of interaction and be together. By standing under the sculpture, the light shines on the surface of the sculpture by pulling the chain and unconsciously created a visual effect like rainfall. “Without people, ‘CLOUD’ is only half complete” Brown (2014) mentioned in their website. The stranger standing under the installation, pulling switches, but seldom realize the changes they are creating on the exterior of the structure. So only when someone realizes the potential of lighting to turn on and off and begin to interact with the people around them and try to manipulate the sculpture together, the “change” will happen. It might be an unconscious desire of people for interactive art, “there was not a moment during the show when the space beneath ‘CLOUD’ was empty” (Brown,2014).

However, the more critical magic of “CLOUD” is that it can enhance the value of people’s happiness. Some audiences called “CLOUD” is a “happiness machine”. It makes people feel the meaning of optimism, hope, and collective action. People staring at the eyes of the sparkling lights and smile from the heart, and pulling the chain enthusiastically, which are all symbols of the value of this interactive piece. As Brown(2014) shared online that after the show, a Calgary mother told him that during the experience of this installation, it was the first time she had seen all of her three children with severe Asperger Syndrome gladly interacting with strangers. That shows the value of a positive interactive game. Play as a part included in the interaction can be “instrumental in increasing psychological safety” (Shiu, 2014, p.83), which is the basis when getting along with others to have a relaxed attitude, a comfortable feeling, and open one’s heart. Then could promote “high-quality exchanges” by play (Dissanayake,1974,p.125). It reminds people of a better self and the feeling of happiness they had. What can play do for a person? It can change them: their emotions, their mentality, and their relationship with others and their surroundings.

Brown, C.R.C. (2014) TWO YEARS OF CLOUD. Available at:
Shiu, E.(2014) Creativity Research: An Inter-Disciplinary and Multi-Disciplinary Research Handbook, Oxon, Routledge. Extract pp.83, pp.199
Dissanayake, E. (1974) A Hypothesis of the Evolution of Art from Play, Cambridge, The MIT Press. Extract pp. 123-5
  • Touch & play(shaping)

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‘floating lights’ developed by travesias de luz, ‘floating lights’ is an interactive installation. The project conveys the concept of light as a game within urban spaces and make available to the public of all ages a basic system of lights and colours. visitors are encouraged to touch the lights and have fun powering on and off each float and be carried away by their creativity and ingenuity writing messages, words, pictures or just enjoy the experience.

  • enjoy & together

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Eliasson is best known in the UK for his Weather Project installation in the Turbine Hall in 2003, people lying down and basking in the dazzling fake sunlight.

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