Hundreds of plexiglas tetrahedrons rippled with waves of illumination in response to changing light conditions for this installation by design collective Pangenerator (+ movie).
Inside each of the 400 vacuum-formed shapes in Pangenerator's Constellaction was a custom-made electronics system driven by a tiny microcontroller, three standard photoresistors, three LEDs and two batteries. A tiny buzzer made a sound when the light flashed.
When an individual tetrahedron detected a sudden change of light intensity – intentionally caused by casting a shadow or pointing a torch – it blinked for a short period of time after a fixed delay and buzzed.
Other tetrahedrons placed nearby were programmed to respond by doing the same, creating a wave of light and sound across the installation.
"We were inspired by emergent phenomena in nature – complex systems without central command, for example, schools of fish, flocks of birds, but also our consciousness, the stock market," Pangenerator's Jakub Kozniewski told Dezeen.
"In all cases there are some rules applied to relatively simple parts of the system, and given that there is some critical mass, complex patterns emerge."
All the patterns and effects possible within the installation were based on the same premise. Different effects were caused by arranging the tetrahedrons differently, so visitors were encouraged to interact with the installation.
"The ideas people were coming up with of how to arrange the pieces were often totally unexpected," said Kozniewski. "Observing strangers playing together and discussing the layout of the pieces in search for 'infinite loop of light' for example was awesome."
The installation was originally commissioned by the Copernicus Science Center in Poland. Piotr Barszczewski, Krzysztof Cybulski, Krzysztof Goliński and Jakub Koźniewski of Pangenerator showed it again on a smaller scale as part of Lodz Design Festival last month.
The designers also recently released a digital necklace formed using light patterns that are projected onto the wearer's body via their phone.