More than thirty works of light art are on display in Eindhoven city center for a week. The theme of this year's event, which began last Saturday, is Shadows & Light. One of the pieces is ‘Loop’ by TU/e team IGNITE, on show at the Karel Vermeerenplantsoen right behind the Dynamo youth center. The interactive installation is serving as a testing platform for a larger work of light art planned for GLOW 2019.
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Team captain Sietse de Vries looks back with satisfaction on the preparations and the first days of the now renowned festival of light art. Not that the run-up was entirely without hurdles, however. He describes Loop, a slightly twisted circle of luminous cubes, as an “apparatus involving some construction difficulties”. An apparatus which, in spite of all the calculations made in advance, turned out to vibrate a little when it was finally built in its entirety. “We didn't dare set it up outside; it would have been too unpredictable in certain conditions, such as a storm.”
The decision was taken to slightly adapt the shape by removing the slight twist from the circle. “That was certainly a design concession, which is always a shame. But this construction technique was new to all of us. And certainly at an event as big as GLOW safety simply comes first.” A staffer at TU/e's Equipment & Prototype Center supervised the construction process from the start, according to TU/e Master's student De Vries, and finally “declared the installation safe at wind force 11.”
The last two weeks before GLOW were chiefly occupied with programming the software and getting the planned interaction between ‘man’ and ‘machine’ operational. Plenty of time was also spent on making Loop watertight. “We worked our socks off in the evenings of the exam weeks.”
Last Thursday the artwork was built on site while the installation's baptism of fire took place on Friday evening, in the presence of, among others, the press, invited guests, the GLOW guides and a small number of people who swung a sneak preview. An ideal final rehearsal for team IGNITE, as De Vries says: “It was really good for us to be able to test various things on visitors on Friday evening. Afterwards we were able to make a few minor adjustments before the real opening on Saturday evening.”
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Visitors' reactions so far have been mostly positive, says the team captain. “We are trying to give as little explanation as possible, we want to give visitors the space to discover for themselves what the intention is and what's possible. Most people figure out what works pretty quickly.”
Every 30 minutes a new program for the installation is triggered, each time offering new kinds of interaction. The visitors' movements are recorded with 3D cameras and converted into moving colors via the LED strips on the cubes. Afterwards visitors are presented with a short questionnaire. “That's how we are finding out what works well and less well.” This is particularly with a view to the bigger installation named ‘Hypar’ planned for next year, for which the team is keen to increase the volume of the artwork considerably.
The first few evenings De Vries especially enjoyed how some parents push their children forward and encourage them to play with Loop. Only to find themselves stepping forward in no time, discovering the effect of their movements. “They are soon infected by their children's enthusiasm.”
The event organizers are similarly enthusiastic about the TU/e students' work, according to IGNITE spokesperson De Vries. Not that this means a spot at GLOW 2019 is in the bag, but the shared intention is certainly there, he says. The concept of Loop and thus of Hypar has, he believes, proven itself, “but in order to scale it up, we will definitely have to spend a little time back at the drawing board.”
GLOW 2018 remains open to visitors through this coming Saturday, November 17.