An array of glowing orbs has descended on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River to interact with curious passers-by. Light Drift, a temporary installation by Meejin Yoon and Eric Höweler of MY Studio, will pulse blue and green on land and just off shore through Sunday, October 17.
Each glowing orb has been outfitted with LED lights and electronic devices that allow communication across the glowing system and engagement with onlookers. Sensors on land detect a person’s presence, changing the color of orbs floating in the river. From the City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program:
“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 can create intersections of linear patterns, encouraging viewers to “play” with each other. These orbs bring the community together by providing gathering spaces for watching the river turn into a flickering constellation, creating new connections on the river’s edge.
“Light Drift creates an atmosphere, a field of lights that transform in color and intensity based on the public interaction with it. The resting state of the field is a constant state of green. When a visitor approaches a land orb, the orb will start an “enticement mode” by pulsing between blue and green. If a visitor sits on the orb, the pulsing will transition to a blue state. The water orbs that align with the land orb will 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 will form a series of intersecting lines in the field. The intersection of lines of lit orbs in the water will encourage different people interacting with the orbs to also interact with each other.”
An opening reception takes place tonight at 6:30 on the Schuylkill Riverbank between Market and Chestnut Streets. When the temporary installation wraps up Sunday, it could move to Boston’s Charles River. Ultimately the non-toxic PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) shells will be recycled.
Look for more information about the Light Drift installation in next week’s The Architect’s Newspaper.