Light Sculpture - Live Underneath

Live Underneath


Live Underneath is an emotive light sculpture that reacts to stimulus. As a person approaches the piece, the sculpture’s light will pulse at a faster and faster rate.


I worked on this project with my partner Chengchao. We began brainstorming on ideas, and the first idea that came to our minds was “What if there was something in the corner that reacted to you?” 

From there, we built on that, getting to a whole in the ground that reacted to you getting closer to it. Since we weren’t going to cut a whole in the ITP floor, we figured we would have to build something to deceive the viewer into thinking that they are looking at the floor.

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We understood that we wanted to use Arduino to light up the sculpture and have it react to stimulus, so we needed the piece to be at least one or two inches tall. When designing the whole and crack that the light would spill out of, we realized that having smoke billow out of the piece would help to bring out the light as well as add an ambience to the piece. From there we found a smoke machine on Amazon, and decided to build the sculpture to fit the machine inside. This brought the heigh of the piece to about 6 inches.

We used the table saw to size up the sides of the sculpture, and laser cut the design.  

Chengchao wrote the code for the Arduino to have the sculpture react to someone approaching it by using an Ultra Sonic Proximity Sensor. The code is here. We used MadMapper to fit a photo of the exact spot that we were covering on the floor, working much better than I expected. Once we installed the sculpture for the class comments and critique, Gabe commented that we couldn’t use the smoke machine as it could cause the fire alarms to go off, and subsequently destroy all the electronics in that area. So for that demonstration we did not use the smoke machine.


My final thoughts on this project are of a piece of work that I am immensely proud of. It is my first project to come out of my graduate degree at ITP, and I couldn’t be happier with it at this current stage. If I was in a space that I could use the smoke machine, then I would happily keep it at this height. But if I was to totally remove the smoke machine then I would shorten the height of the sculpture considerably, nearly to the shortest height possible.