LightBoxes – Harvard GSD Exhibition

This was a project that I did with friends of mine Simon Kim and Mariana Ibanez. Mariana was the curator for an architecture exhibition at the Harvard GSD and wanted […]

This was a project that I did with friends of mine Simon Kim and Mariana Ibanez. Mariana was the curator for an architecture exhibition at the Harvard GSD and wanted to make the exhibition extra awesome. She went on to design and recruit others to design lightboxes as well as other objects to achieve the awesomeness. My involvement was to design the circuitry and communications of the boxes as well as implement some intelligent behavior or interactivity for the boxes.

“Located at the ground floor of the Graduate School of Design, the exhibition would have to be of sufficient size to transform the large lobby space. The projected opening of September would make this the opening exhibition of the new academic year of fall 2008. The exhibition would also last six weeks, and host a conference.

Working with the designers of the exhibition, the initial idea was to create a series of display cases within which LED arrays would not only provide illumination to its contents, but also demonstrate behaviours that suggest a curatorial path for the viewer. These resultant LightBoxes would be suspended in a larger environment – a taut, stretched fabric shell with text and images and also lit from behind. The design intent would be an otherwise dark gallery space encompassed by a softly lit shell. Within this wrapped environment would be a field of display cases interacting with the patrons.

For the single LightBox, proximity sensing with ultrasonic transducers was used so that the passing of a patron would activate the LED display, and become brighter as the viewer approached to view its contents. For the collection of LightBoxes, a higher-order intelligence was needed to
suggest connections with other LightBoxes, and therefore generate interest in the viewer to a prescribed, but non-explicit, trajectory. The curator would have several displays share similar qualities but have them ina linear sequence, or have them in another configuration, like a spiral. The viewer may even enter a sequence mid-stream, or one that bifurcates. This requires the LightBoxes to demonstrate a group intelligence, where neighbours and their contents are known.”

Simon Kim

Shows the mechanical design of the actual lightboxes

The MIT beaver enjoying the spotlight

Each sensor/LED controller board was connected to a bus for power and communications to a central control PC

System diagram for the control scheme

The box in place while structure is being assembled

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