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LED Light Painting: Crazy Cool Things Happen When Art & Tech Collide

by Adriana Lee | March 31, 2012March 31, 2012 8:00 am PST

What happens when you put art and geekery together? Floating light-filled images that don’t exist in real time or space, but are still captured in a stunning pixelated work of the imagination.

It’s called “light painting,” and it has become a bona fide trend in art and creative geek circles. In the past, people could make interesting swathes of light and color by just waving a flashlight in front of a camera set on a long exposure. Today’s version of light painting swaps the flashlight for a large “light wand” (a stick embedded with RGB LEDs). The end result is some mind-blowing floating photographic imagery set against the night sky.

This pretty trippy technique is the brain child of a group of Oslo artists who wanted to render the unseen landscape of its city’s Wi-Fi signals. After some painstaking setup work, the artists wound up with a very cool (and kind of eery) visualization.

This was just the beginning, though. The wand can be programmed however the geek/artist wants. Above, it’s set to go off in response to Wi-Fi. It can be pre-programmed in a predetermined pattern, like in the LightScythe project. Here, the artist showed that anything can be “light painted” — from floating text to defined graphics, and yes, even Mario.

Hmmm, manipulated light and colors to create a defined image that doesn’t actually exist in real life… say, doesn’t that sound familiar? If you’re thinking this is like a strange take on the idea of holograms, I’m right there with ya.


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...