05. Apr 2012

Interactive into the future
Three exemplary installations designed by Moment Factory, Montreal/CDN

Text: Joachim Ritter, Moment Factory
Photos: Moment Factory

For over 20 years Lyon’s Fête de Lumières event and the efforts undertaken by the French city to coordinate the use of electric lighting in their urban planning was regarded as trend-setting or even exemplary. Indeed, many designers see Lyon as the place where the lighting masterplan first saw light of day (or night). Right now urban lighting is witnessing what might be described as revolutionary rumblings. Digital light has opened gateways to new worlds. The gateways are big and the worlds three-dimensional and interactive.

Montreal has been a Unesco City of Design since 2006. Many creative solutions that are recognized worldwide were born in Montreal. The idea of a bike rental system, as applied today in London and Sydney, was developed in Montreal. Montreal is an all-round festival city, incorporating jazz, comedians, art and culture – and of course a lighting festival: Montréal en Lumière, which takes place every year in February. The combination of creativity and a festival culture makes for very fertile ground for future-oriented solutions and creative firms looking to export their ideas around the world. We are all familiar with projection art and colour-changing lighting installations. What is going on right now in the creative studios run by media designers is of a completely new dimension. What they are coming up with is transforming the night-time image of our downtown areas through enhanced interactivity. This, of course, infers a conscious intervention in the public realm. Many are not yet aware of the nature of this impact and hardly any research has been made on the effects of such interventions.
The projects are a result of the scope of new technologies coupled with the designers’ creativity. Again, it is digitalised light that is making such developments possible. The rate at which data can be computed and handled enables movement to be captured and processed, and further processes to be activated. That does not sound as if it has much to do with lighting design. But it is clearly the consequence of the introduction of the semiconductor into the lighting world. Computer and light are both terms from the field of photonics. This is not a term you find used a lot in lighting magazines. […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 82.

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