Illuminated Rainbow Ripples

a proposed installation by Ethan Hopfer

The plan for this installation is create a multi sensory user influenced artwork. Viewers will react to the piece both consciously as well as unconsciously. I am interested in challenging the passive role of the average museum goer. This piece will only come alive with viewer participation. If no one is there to see it it will be a blank canvas. Each viewing/interaction will be a unique experience all its own. The installation would consist of two pieces one hung above the other.

Part One: Light up floor

Dimensions: 16' x 30'

The floor will be pressure sensitive and will light up as participants walk around it. Each step will cause a ripple of color to emanate from the foot (similar to the way a drop of water causes ripples in a pond).  The color and size of the ripple will be dependent on the amount of force exerted. a light step would cause a thin blue or green ripple, while jumping would cause a much thicker ripple in varying reds. pressure in the middle of these extremes would cause ripples of yellow. If there is no movement the floor will remain unlit.

As more people walk around there will be many rings of color simultaneously. As rings intersect with each other they will create variations in color. example a red ring intersecting with a blue ring would cause a purple hue at the point of intersection. If there are many Participants it would be possible to achieve all the colors of the rainbow.

Below is an image of a similar technology by Lightspace Corporation

My design would differ slightly from this already available technology because it would not use tiles, but thousands of tiny LEDs. It will be more like a Jumbotron at sporting events then a tile floor as shown above, thus giving it more flexibility and a wider range of variation.

Part Two: The ceiling

Dimensions: 16' x 30'

The ceiling is another LED screen. It will create a different sensation then the floor because the viewer will have a different interaction with it. Upon entering the room each participant will be equipped with a heart rate monitor and RFID tag. The heart rate monitor will be strapped around the chest and the RFID tag will placed on one of the figures. Each set of equipment will be assigned a certain color, when a participants heart beats it will send out a pulse corresponding to that color. The epicenter of this pulse is controlled by the RFID tag. By moving one's hand around the viewer can control the point of origin, and the adventurous spectator might try switching RFID tags with a friend for a different experience.

Again as with the floor, intersecting colors they will create varying hues.

The ceiling would look something like this


I am interested in seeing how people will react to such and installation. Most traditional forms of art are merely hung on a wall. By presenting this piece both on the ground as well as over head, I challenge the view to choose their artistic endeavor. Many may choose to look down and run around and watch how they change the floor, while others will be called upward to the ceiling. And those who choose a more passive role may sit back and watch how their peers interact with the piece. I hope to get people not only to interact with the piece, but to interact with each other.

Links and Resources


Smartvision LED Screens
Lightspace Corporation


Pressure sensitive flooring
Mood Sensors
Polar Heart rate monitors
RFID tags


Heart Rate Monitor