Interacting with Light
23.08.2014 / Lighting designers
Dominic harris is the founder and creative director of Cinimond Studio in London. Under Cinimod Studio, Dominic has been named “Breakthrough Talent of the Year”, and won numerous awards the most recent being “Best Luminaire” at the Lighting Design Awards 2014.
His interest in integrating technology and interaction within architecture has been evident through much of Dominic’s professional work. His fascination with lighting and electronics is evident within the highly innovative lighting schemes he brings to each of his projects.
This month Dominic shares an exclusive insight into the art of interactive lighting
Q1. Why have you chosen light as a material to work with?
Light is an important part of my design palette, and is one that I have always had a great affinity for. Lighting is often overlooked – sometimes seen as a final overlay on a given project. However for me it is an integral part of the design process, and the best results are achieved by treating light as much as a physical entity within the project as the other components. Light is an incredibly potent transformative design tool, and with the modern digital technologies, is one that offers design potentials that are ever increasing and faster than any other material or process.
Q2. What is your lighting inspiration?
Much of my work is inspired by the beautiful phenomenas of light found within nature, but which I then ‘tweak’ and ‘manipulate’ to create whimsical experiential moments in which it is often the viewer that becomes the surprise participant within the lighting design. I continue to look at the incredible beauty of other lighting artists such as James Turrell and Daniel Flavin – both of whom I consider to be the classical masters of working with light, colour and impact – although not necessarily with any interactive input.
Q3. You create a lot of glowing objects, which are light sources. Why and how often are you designing objects with a primary function of illumination?
Much of my work involves the use of light as direct-view glowing objects, rather than lights that are used to project their output in the more traditional lighting sense. I have an absolute fascination for working with arrays of repeated objects, be they free-form arrangements or rigid grids, and manipulating their appearance through both physical and digital changes in their properties. Sometimes the product of this design process will result in more ‘traditional’ lights that become functional luminaires; for example the Moon Chandelier and the Pacifico Ring. In each of these, the physical manipulation of light become critical, and some of the most cutting-edge design and fabrication processes are used to turn the physical LEDs into design components that are re-appropriated with the design as if they were physical building components.
Q4. Besides the human interaction factor, how important is interaction with the exhibition space to you?
We live in a world dominated by interaction and the expectation of immediate responsiveness. Social media, emails, etc, have turned us into on-demand consumers of interactive and tailored content. I believe that lighting design as well as general physical architectural and exhibition space for the most part is severely lagging behind in this trend, which is somewhat ironic considering how much lighting is now digitally controlled. To me the future is definitely about more personalized and more interactive spaces for us to experience, and this will be achieved though the fusion of lighting, media, and other experiential components.
Q5. Many of your artworks include moving images. Is video rather a source of light or a source of image for you?
The animated artworks generally make use of the moving image as a physical element that just happens to have the ability to transform itself in appearance across its surface. Some of the pieces have hundreds of video screens, and others make use of single large screens. The designs are developed as a response to an emotional brief I have set myself – they are never driven by just the technology aspect. I often feel torn between the relationship between the technology used and the final result. I have immense pride in the technology I create to drive the artworks, and as much as this technology is an artwork in itself, it is not THE artwork. The actual artworks end up nearly devoid of any expression of the underlying technology – their focus is on the emotional and uncluttered connection between the viewer and the artwork. I don’t create “tech art”.
Q6. How do you imagine lighting art in 30 years?
As innovative and digital lighting becomes more easily accessible to more designers, I believe that in the future “lighting art” will become less about the focus on “lighting” and more about how lighting is combined with other materials to create ever more engaging results.