5 Times LED Lights Became Unexpected and Awesome Works of Art

Through my work with green tech companies, I’ve become more enthusiastic about the potential of LED lighting than I ever thought I would. But I also tend to see only the utilitarian side of the technology: the efficiency, affordability and so on. For a change of pace, I decided to go on an exploration of the artistic side of LED lighting, and discovered there’s an entire genre of sculptures and installation harnessing LED lighting to create beautiful and provocative imagery.

Here are five of my favourite examples so far.

MONUMENT (2008)

Jenny Holzer is a sculptor who has been using LED lighting to project political messages since 1982. Her works combine text written by her and borrowed from other sources, including poetry, to form thought-original pieces.

One of her more recent works was MONUMENT in 2008: a futuristic-looking monolith that displays LED phrases from declassified US government documents surrounding the War on Terror. The result is something that looks like an awesome prop from a movie I wish existed.

LIGHTING GIANTS (2014)

One of the awesome things about LED lighting is their ability to reframe mundane objects into something that gives you pause. That’s definitely the case with this installation in Croatia, in which shipyard cranes were transformed into beautiful geometric sculptures using only the power of colourful lights. Watch the video to see them in action — it’s something like a stationary fireworks display.

SCATTERED LIGHT (2011)

An early adopter of LED lighting in art, Jim Campbell has created temporary and permanent installations all over the US. This particular piece, illuminated in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, was part of his Exploded Views series – which were meant to reveal hidden images when viewed from afar. Inhabitat’s description of them as LED Magic-Eye pictures is a good way of explaining it. Up close, it looks like a waterfall of LED lights, but it transforms into something else entirely when you take a step back.

ARROW OF TIME (UNFINISHED LIFE) (2016)

Tatsuo Miyajima’s Arrow of Time installation at the Met immersed viewers in an eerie, blood-red world that is meant to make them, “experience the irreversibility of their lives.” In other words, awesome. The work’s 250 LEDs are programmed to count from one to nine repeatedly, then go dark, repeating the sequence to symbolize the unending cycle of birth and death.

PIXEL (2013)

Unlike the other pieces on this list, Pixel is something you can actually buy and take home with you. Like a super-powered LITE BRITE, uses a 32 x 32 LED display to create sprite art. You can customize it using Raspberry Pi, or display one of the many pre-programmed images (but who’d want to settle for that?)

Create Your Own LED Masterpiece

LED lights are awesome, and you can’t go wrong with the guys at Tradeforce for commercial LED applications. On the other hand, if you’re building a 20-foot sculpture designed to remind us of the frailty of life, I’m sure they’d be able to help you out there as well. Visit Tradeforce Tech for commercial LED lighting in Southern Ontario.

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