Dangling from a darkened ceiling like strange bioluminescent blooms, hundreds of high-tech lamps respond to the movements of people in the room, glowing in a particular color that resonates outward, spreading to more and more lamps. This chain reaction shifts as observers navigate the space, contrasting with the patterns created by others. ‘Forest of Resonating Lamps’ is an immersive installation by Japanese collective Teamlab, created for Maison et Objet 2016.
Occupying the junction of art and technology, the installation is not just about a single decorative object, beautiful as it may be. The lamps themselves are made of Murano glass and equipped with LED bulbs, hung from the gallery ceiling in a space with mirrored walls that multiply them so they seem to go on forever, a la Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room installations.
As an observer approaches a lamp, it shines brightly, emitting a color tone that is transmitted to lamps nearby. If you’re the only person in the room, the light is entirely centered upon you, but as soon as someone else enters, you become aware of the ripple effect created by their own movements. While the lamps seem to be scattered randomly throughout the space, they’re actually placed to form a continuous line from select lamps that act as starting points.
“The planar arrangement of the lamps is staggered in zigzag to fill a space, staying in a perfectly ordered grid,” says Teamlab. “This is the first constraint. The second constraint is the height and width of the room and the pathway that people walk through, thus creating a ‘boundary condition.’ The third constraint is that all the lamps, when connected to its two closest lamps three-dimensionally, form a unicursal pattern with the same start and end points.”
“The arrangement of the lamps thus created is beautiful not only in an immobilized, static kind of way, but more so in a dynamic way caused by people approaching these lamps. It demonstrates the space of new era: the space freely designed through digital technology, and adapting the change and movement made by people’s existence in it.”