London Design Festival 2016: co-director of Universal Assembly Unit Samantha Lee unveils the digital art studio's interactive sculpture for London Design Festival in this exclusive movie Dezeen produced for Italian lighting brand iGuzzini.
Commissioned by iGuzzini, Light Pollination consists of 20,000 LED lights embedded on the ends of fibre-optic cables. These gently pulse with light to mimic the phenomenon of bioluminescence in nature.
"iGuzzini approached us to come up with a design for an interactive art piece that would be available to the general public," Lee explains in the movie, which was filmed at Universal Assembly Unit's London studio.
"It was to open up a conversation about how digital media is influencing how we can use lighting in cities. The concept came from conversations looking at the way light behaves in nature."
Light Pollination will be on show from 19 to 25 September in South Kensington, as part of Brompton Design District.
Visitors will be invited to interact with the installation by shining a source of light – such as from a mobile phone – onto the sculpture. This will be detected by sensors embedded on its surface.
"We were interested in how we could create a light behaviour that was responsive to human interaction," Lee explains.
"You can use your phone or any light source to influence these trails of light that flow across the surface. Depending on the light intensity that you're feeding it, that will define how big a reaction it's going to have."
The installation is powered by custom-built software that Universal Assembly Unit developed in-house.
"The challenge for us was to find a way to control so many points of light, Lee says. "The software takes the information from the sensors and then create these turbulence fields that disturb the trails of light."
However, Lee says the idea is that visitors will not stop to think too hard about how the effect is created.
"When people see the piece, we want them to think beyond just the technicalities of it," she explains. "We want them to think it has some magic and wonder to it, in the same way you don't necessary understand the mechanisms when you see fireflies."
iGuzzini is one of the world's leading architectural lighting companies. It commissioned the installation to investigate how digital technology could enable lighting for the built environment to become more responsive in future.
"[Light Pollination] sort of opens up a conversation beyond just what a [lighting] product can do," Lee says. " It's about how it can be more intrinsic to human nature in the way we might want to design our environments to be."
Light Pollination will be on show during London Design Festival from 19 to 25 September at 15a Cromwell Place Mews, London SW7 2LA.
This movie was produced by Dezeen for iGuzzini.