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#lightandinteractivity #itp . Gramercy Tuesday, February 19, 07:56-10:34 . This is a time-lapse video taken at 2 frames per minute at 480p resolution. The video here is played at 70% rate for better observation. . This video is taken facing north. As the sun rises on the east side (right side of the video) the shadows change in many ways. Earlier in the morning the shadows are longer, more stretched, more blurry and change at a much faster rate. In contrast, later in the morning the shadows are shorter, more compressed, sharper and change at a much slower rate. . The angle of the sun affects the qualities of the shadow hugely. When the shadows become sharp, they almost create another dimension to the balconies with their geometric forms. It is as if the building has a separate physical presence outside of its actual bricks and mortar.

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Assignment: Create an artificial candle using a NeoPixel jewel. Your candle should include a base and a shade or diffuser. Try to capture the colors and behavior of a real candle in programming your candle.

I partnered with Lillian for this project.


After the candle observation session in class I wanted to try the extreme and recreate the natural colors and behavior of a candle in something completely unnatural – to see if the colors and behavior can be stripped down to just the quality of light itself. As a result, I decided to use live edge acrylic.

Idea sketches: *insert photos*

Lillian and I tried etching different patterns on the acrylic to see which one worked best with the light:

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After testing these, we went with the lines because the quality of light was most visible and deliberate on those. We turned them into candle shapes of different sizes in order to stack them and make them into a 3D piece.

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Learnings on live edge acrylic

  • Light on edges are very bright – must find something to cover them because they distract the patterns on the piece itself
  • The clearest live edge acrylic is ‘green’ – only able to focus on brightness (might be better for other projects)
  • Too little space between each layer make the patterns indistinguishable – must create space in between, each layer should have their own very well positioned lights
  • Etching patterns look better when there is higher contrast – lower contrast make the patterns look flat rather than ‘POP’ out as lights

Due to our struggle with the colors on acrylic, we ended up focusing on the brightness of each pixel rather than the colors. I didn’t get around to trying the Color Converter library for this project. However, I will try it as a side project on my own.

For this specific project, I wonder what would happen if I had stripped it down even further and tried to recreate the candle colors and behavior on a plain sheet of matte acrylic (or plain white paper). Also, how would I have programmed it differently if I had focused on its surroundings as well – instead of just the light itself.

Project video:

(The bottom of the acrylic actually looks like a flame)



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#lightandinteractivity #itp . Gramercy Thursday, January 21, 14:41 . This is a photo of a wall inside an apartment in Gramercy. This barcode-like shadow pattern caught me by surprise because it was, well, ’barcode-like’. The shadows appeared in different shades and width. The photo was taken next to a big window with slightly curvy blinds turned about 45 degrees from the window itself. Because of the curve and the turn, the light reflected on the blinds casted shadows on top of each other. The darker areas were where the two blinds overlap. The lighter areas were where the light was able to seep through. Because it was a cloudy winter afternoon, the light was relatively dim which made the shadows faint. However, as they stack on each other, they create a subtle dynamic quality. . This pattern was especially beautiful when the clouds passed the sun and the shades changed. I wonder recreate this same feeling in an art piece.

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Interruptible LED

Assignment: Create a fading LED attached to a microcontroller. Your LED should be interruptible by either a pushbutton, analog input, or serial input. Your fade speed and fade curve are yours to determine.

Tom went through this exercise with us in class. I was surprised by how much the sine wave makes a difference to the fade. It felt a lot more smooth and natural. I left the class wanting to experiment on what different feelings I can create with the light.

Example code:

I listed out some emotions and based on practicality and my state of mind recently (self-portrait), I went with: (1) heavy breathing (2) panic (3) emergency. The interaction is then to put off the fire and let the LED die.

I chose to make the enclosure as minimal as I can to highlight the light effects. I covered the LED in a tissue to diffuse the light and put it in a pingpong ball as it provides a perfectly round shape – evenly distributing the light. In addition, I made it into a character using white wires as the body of the pingpong man.



(1) Heavy breathing

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(2) Panic

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(3) Emergency

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The biggest thing I learned along the way was that light and its movements look different in every condition e.g. an LED vs. an LED in a pingpong ball vs. an LED covered in tissue in a pingpong ball – the effects in these are also very different. Therefore, next time I should make as close to the real setting as I can and take time to test to fine-tune the code.

A bonus – an interesting graph I made while trying to create a breathing effect.

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Lighting Moment #1

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#lightandinteractivity #itp . Washington Square Park Thursday, January 31, 15:03 . This photo was taken at the north east side of Washington Square Park, facing east, at around 3 PM. The lighting of this moment caught my attention because the shadow lines of the fence of the park were almost perpendicular to the fence itself. The only source of light in this photo is the sun. It is lighting from the right side of the photo towards the back (as the shadow is slightly tilted upward here). In terms of direction, it was from the West side. As it was a very sunny day, the shadows appear crisp – the closer to the fence, the crisper. The shadows were at least 3-4 times the length of the real fence. I would assume that as the sun set, it would get longer and longer because of its angle, perhaps it would even cast shadows on the buildings on the left side. Another reason these shadows were so impressive was because it was taken on the day after a light snow. The pavement and the road were still covered in salt, which was a matte white color/texture. This created the perfect canvas for the shadows to land on. . Other than the impressive shadows, the whole scene is also covered in light from the sun. And because it is the only source, and a very powerful source, you can see the small branches of the tree on the left and the steel construction poles perfectly. These thin cylinder-like shapes together with the shadows and the fence create a geometric feel with the light bouncing off of them.

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