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Watch Light Take On The Properties Of A Tennis Ball

You've never seen light work quite like this.

Light kinetics from espadaysantacruz studio on Vimeo.

Espadaysantacruz has an unmatched ability to give light its own personality. The creative studio specializes in creating all types of interactive and visual experiences, but it's when they’re fiddling with our concept of nature’s most vivid agent that we’ve been most impressed.

In the past, they’ve used a light display to carry out social experiments such as #Lightyournumber, which was a hashtag-powered installation charting our cultural obsession with numbers (and Twitter, apparently). And they’ve also won over our sense of childish wonder with MAKEAWISH, a vertically dynamic installation used to recreate the effect of blowing dandelion spores into the heavens.


Most recently, they’ve taken our breath away by making light seemingly operate under the laws of physical motion with Light Kinetics, a working prototype follows the luminous path set forth by MAKEAWISH. Both installations, as Espadaysantacruz tells it, are “emphasizing the materiality of light.”

Espadaysantacruz tells us more about Light Kinetics below.

TCP: As it stands now, Light Kinetics is more experiment than final result. From what you've gathered, how might you implement the work at play in the project for future endeavors? Is there something already in the works?

Espadaysantacruz: LK is an experimental prototype. In our studio, we consider light as one of the most potentially expressive elements of nature. LK follows the path of MAKEAWISH, where we used blowing as an action metaphor to trigger the light wave. In both installations we aim at emphasizing the materiality of light, whether it is a wave, or a fluid.

In LK, a gyroscope feeds a physics engine which controls a set of dimmers. Even though the whole system is digital, we get the feeling of…analogue behavior. The light seems to follow the laws of mechanics, and that is what creates the "magical" effect.

Our idea is to keep researching in this direction. We want to look for natural forms of interaction. In both installations, the relationship between the physical stimulus and the reaction is very straightforward. This allows you to forget that there is a digital system controlling it, and simply focus on the visual experience.


It's bizarre but thrilling to see light operate in this way. Where did the idea to treat light in this manner come from?

The LED is a paradigmatic luminary of contemporary society. LEDs give out a perfectly calibrated light which can be controlled with high precision with no latency. Light is no longer "light,” but information. LEDs are the mirror of digital society, and this is the reason they have become one of the most recurring elements in contemporary creation.

However, we like to work with incandescent light because it resists this abstraction. It maintains an attachment to materiality. Traditional light bulbs have a physical quality that LEDs lack. They have a special aura. Somehow we like to think of ourselves as digital craftsmen and the light bulbs are our raw materials.

Light, as we usually see it, is an element that lacks mass—to treat it under the laws of…gravity is disturbing. In some way, it is like weighting the soul.

Did you arrive at the desired effect through much tinkering or was it simply a case of carrying out a detailed plan?

The origin of the installation comes from an experiment during a workshop. We are constantly investigating with technology but there always comes a moment when you have to stop and make decisions which will allow the installation to reach a final form; if you don’t do that, all you have are experiments, and no finished works.

Although it is a simple prototype, the piece has all the elements it needs to become an installation object. Also, when you finish a piece like this you start to come up with thousands of possible variations.

See more of the studio's work over at its website here!