Aston artist in residence creates light installation

Chris Plant's installation at Lightfest

29 September 2015

Aston’s first ever artist in residence worked with the University’s photonics experts to create a stunning light installation for the inaugural Lightfest, held at the Library of Birmingham last week (25 September). 

Birmingham-based artist, Chris Plant, collaborated with the world-leading academics and research students of the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) to produce his latest work of art. Taking inspiration from the innovative ways in which the AIPT use optical fibres, laser beams and advanced LED technology, he developed his installation to make people experience light in a fundamentally different way. 

To achieve this aim, Chris aligned 20 1.5m LED light batons closely together, casting modulating fields of light, colour and intense pixelated images into a darkened space to create the striking illusion that the tubes were somehow suspended and floating in space.Accompanying the experimental light display was a sound collage that changed pitch and volume in time with the shifting colours and patterns of the LED lights. 

The installation played a major part of Aston University’s Lightfest event, which took place in the impressive surroundings of the Library of Birmingham. The event celebrated the science of light and demonstrated the instrumental role it plays in everyday life. 

Lightfest showcased short films curated by the talented team behind the Flatpack Film Festival and staged workshops, holographic displays, interactive presentations and expert lectures. Thousands of people attended on the day, including members of the public and numerous groups of schoolchildren, filtering through the various exhibitions and listening to an array of sold out talks. 

“It was very exciting to take part in Lightfest and to exhibit my work in a great venue like the Library of Birmingham,” Chris said. “Having spoken with many people from the AIPT I started thinking about the nature of light and how it affects our perception of things. The installation is my way of exploring this.” 

Chris has been producing and mixing videos and animations and creating real time, interactive installations since the mid-1990s. He began creating live visuals for performing bands and in nightclubs around Birmingham, forming the business, Colour Burst, to help him manage the growing demand for his work. Chris’s work has progressed to involve 1950s slide film projectors, 16mm film footage and real-time graphics. 

The Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies, with more than 70 active researchers, is the largest research group in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and one of the largest in photonics research in the UK. The group pursues a diverse range of device-and-system-level topics at the leading edge of technology.

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Note to Editors

This European Researchers Night project is funded by the European Commission under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions Grant Agreement no 633155.