Bridging the gap between art and science

[T]he unlikely duo of art and science collided the night of Nuit Blanche, by lighting up one the dreariest parts of Ryerson’s campus.

“A bunch of students wanted to do something they weren’t comfortable with doing,” said Graham Pearson, department of physics technologist and faculty advisor behind Light Seeds.

Light Seeds was the newbie independent art project at Nuit Blanche this year that combined physic and engineering students, a light show and the alleyway that connects Kerr Hall East and the Rogers Communication Centre.

This combination allowed spectators to physically take part in making the art they wish to see. Below the bridge controllers of the light show were set up in order be in the hands of the audience. People on the street were able to come up and control the 6,000 LED lights through all different types of sensors including musical, optical and kinetic, with an etch and sketch type of device. The sensors would then send a message to the computers set up next to them, that computer would read the message and translate it onto the bridge through the lights, in turn creating releases of colourful moving light above the crowd.

The art project itself, which took around nine months to fully complete, was said to have “evolved out of thin air”, said Pearson, the man who also pitched the idea. It was a project that also started off with a small team of about five that then grew to 30 people who had worked on it at some point throughout the process of its creation.

“Physic kids have these talents that they don’t always get to put on display, and this project really shows off what we can do,” said Pearson. The light show not only displayed the creative and intellectual abilities of the physicist’s and engineers at Ryerson, but it also made the non-science savvy feel as though they too could be apart of this mastermind.

“We want people to know that you don’t have to be in physics to be able to take part in something like this,” said Pearson. A mission they definitely accomplished since the crowd of participants could have not have seemed more enthralled, with their eyes glued on the lights as they create their very own art for everyone down Church Street to see.

“I think people like it because it’s interactive, simple not abstract and very intuitive,” said Frances Tonlete, Light Seeds project manager. Those being the reasons as to why it drew so much attention, this interactive light show not only connects us to the stimulating combination of science and art, it can also connect us closer towards the city around us.

Looking at art, especially during the night of Nuit Blanche is one thing. Yet through Light Seed when you are creating the art yourself, right there in the middle of the street, on a building you walk through daily is a whole other experience, and one that the world of science has given us.