Light Drift

Philadelphia, PA
Interactive Public Art
20,000 sf
LED lighting, wireless radio technology, Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol
Credit List:
Höweler + Yoon Architecture, Eric Höweler, J. Meejin Yoon, Ryan Murphy

Light Drift is a temporary interactive lighting installation along the edge of the Schuylkill River drawing viewers into a playful engagement with the artwork, the river’s edge, and each other. The project creates a matrix of lighting elements that were arrayed along the waterfront, with seating elements on land and floating elements in the water.

The orbs on land use sensors to detect the presence of a person and relay a radio signal to the corresponding orbs in the water, allowing visitors to transform the lighting behavior and color of the orbs in the river. As viewers engage and occupy the orbs along the park, the grid of lights in the water becomes an index of the activities on land. Multiple viewers create intersections of linear patterns, encouraging viewers to “play” with each other.

Light Drift creates an atmosphere, a matrix field that transforms in color and intensity based on the public’s interaction with it. The resting state of the field is a constant state of green. When a visitor approaches a land orb, the orb starts an “enticement mode” by pulsing between blue and green. If a visitor sits on the orb, the pulsing transitions to a blue state. The water orbs aligned with the land orb, change colors at the same time, creating a linear extension of blue lights in the water. Because the orbs are arranged on a diagonal grid, the lines of lit orbs form a series of intersecting lines in the matrix. The responsive nature of the orbs encourages public interaction.