Location: Portland, OR, United States
Completion date: 2017
Light Chimes is a whimsical interactive installation in which visitors’ movements create harmonic patterns of light and sound. It consists of 19 independent nodes suspended across an 18-foot-wide matrix. As visitors walk underneath, they trigger individual sensors that activate a color and musical instrument that follows them from node to node. The tones are chosen randomly from a complementary scale, so that every movement creates a harmonious, improvised experience, both visually and musically. The installation is designed to be satisfying and uplifting, whether for two people… or twenty. Every visit is completely unique, dependent completely on the moment and the spontaneous movements of the participants. Light Chimes has delighted attendees at the Portland Winter Light Festival and the Pickathon music festival.
Sticky was initially approached by Little Hexes about collaborating on a piece for the Portland Winter Light Festival. We wanted to create a work that would invite visitors into a visual and audio conversation. We also wanted to create something that could be enjoyed as a solo or as a social activity. And something that could be reused at other festivals and outdoor events, or be given a permanent home in a park or courtyard. Taking our inspiration from wind chimes, we imagined the piece as though visitors are the wind breezing through, effortlessly producing patterns of light and sound.
We prototyped Light Chimes in VR, because we knew it would be a large piece, and we wanted to be able to quickly iterate and explore different approaches and designs. That enabled us to move through virtual models to experience the interplay of colors and sounds, and to experiment with what would happen differently depending on whether large or small groups or just one individual is moving through the installation. We determined the best overall form for the piece, in terms of height and scale, and focused on creating a design that would be easy to transport, assemble, and disassemble, which is key to its recurring use as a pop-up installation.
As an outdoor installation, Light Chimes has weathered one of our region's worst winters and one of its hottest summers. Not only has the piece remained fully functional, it's encouraged the public to play regardless of how wet, hot, or cold the day or night might be.