Electrolumen, Roskilde Festival 2010 & Julefryd Teatret Gruppe 2010 (July 2010)

Electrolumen consists of a telephone pole, only two meters tall, with four street lamps mounted right above head height. Four wires looking exactly like standard aerial high voltage electrical cables are mounted on real ceramic insulators and go off at chest height to another telephone pole several meters away.

Electrolumen looked like an authentic lamppost. It had four street lights mounted at the top and three electrical wires (spanning four metres) attached to another lamppost. The only difference between it and a real lamppost was that it was only two metres tall, effectively bringing the electricity hanging above the streets down to a level where everyone could touch it. This created an alternative interface that played with the danger of touching high-voltage electricity components.

Instead of the participants being electrocuted when touching the lamps and the wires, they could modulate a soundscape in real time; the lamps would light up to augment their actions and create an intimate atmosphere of standing beneath a blinking lamppost.

The lamps and the wires required two points of touch to react. To light up a lamp, one had to touch another lamp as well. This could be by direct touch, but to get all the lamps to light up required four touch points and therefore required collaboration between at least two participants, thereby inviting participants to collaborate.

Electrolumen encourages people to make contact with each other. In order to light all four lamps and to play with different sound ambiences, you need extra hands to help you. You can also send the current through your friend or, for example, form human chains. There are no instructions on how to use the installation; the participants will have to figure it out themselves, be creative and play with it.

This project was exhibited at the Roskilde Festival (2010). The installation became a very engaging piece to interact with, and the lights and soundscape seemed to capture the interest of the participants who explored them.

The installation did not have an explicit purpose. It invited the participants to make their own sense of the interaction. During the festival, participants would continuously explore the interface and find a variety of ways to interact with it.

At times, they would move away from interface engagements to a more interbody engagement, exploring the experience of turning on the light by touching each other: cute kissing and touching games appeared amongst the participants. As they kissed, they would laugh when the lights simultaneously turned on. Sometimes, the participants would explore how many people would still be capable of turning on the lights, which resulted in up to twenty people holding hands.

Touch sensing was based on signal-to-noise detection via an Arduino. 18 8-bit parameters (touch, activity, time for each lamp) were converted into midi via Max/MSP. The MIDI signal controlled an Ableton Live synthesis that converted it into sound. Further, the Arduino board converted the touch into DMX, which controlled a dimmer pack controlling the light.

Credits: Done as a part of a large-scale installation with: Bent Haugland, Brian Josefsen, Christian Liljedahl, Emma Cecilia Ajanki, Halfdan Jensen, Jacob Viuff, Jiazi Liu, Johan Bichel Lindegaard, Jonas Jongejan, Lasse Skov, Lin Routhe Jørgensen, Lizette Bryrup, Mads Hobye, Marie Viuff, Mathias Vejerslev, Mona Jensen, Nikolaj Møbius, Philip Jun Kamata, Sally Jensen Ingvorsen, Schack Lindemann, Simo Ekholm, Sofie Kai Nielsen, Sofie Walbom Kring, Sofus Walbom Kring, Sonny Windstrup, Tobias Bjerregaard, Tobias Jørgensen, Troels Christoffersen and Vanessa Carpenter. Done as a member of illutron.dk.