A project to build lights that change with the weather. An understanding that I want to be a maker. The birth of this blog.
I like lights. The Weather Project at the Tate Modern in 2003 got me hooked and I would happily walk there at lunchtimes to admire Olafur Eliasson’s giant sun. Some years later I worked in an office just up the road from the Tate and paid homage to The Weather Project by making a giant glowing hashtag.
Fast forward to 2019 and Brendan Dawes, speaking at the New Adventures Conference in Nottingham, reignited my passion for lights when he talked about his Carefully Everywhere Descending project. It is an art installation hung up in a large consulting firm in London that starts glowing red if there are delays on the tube.
Inspired I embarked on a project to create my own lights, and just like Brendan I wanted to move away from the idea of needing a screen to convey data. I gave myself the big constraint of making something I would want to, and be allowed to, hang up at home.
I joined my local Hackspace and was in my element learning new things. I learnt how to use the laser cutter, learnt how to solder, learnt how to program an Arduino micro controller, and learnt how WS2812B addressable LEDs work.
A funny thing happens when you start telling people about your project. They start telling you about theirs. I have connected with some really interesting people during this project and have learnt how much I value having people around me who are also making things.
As with many a project the early enthusiasm waned when it became apparent that the finished product wasn’t going to look quite like I hoped. Stalled projects are hard to build momentum behind but the Covid-19 lock down took away any last excuses I had for not getting it over the line.
In a final nod of appreciation towards my inspiration Olafur and Brendan, my light boxes change to reflect the weather. The image above shows the range of colours I have mapped to temperatures (hot/red, warmer/orange, warm/yellow, mild/green, cool/teal, cold/light blue, bitterly/blue and frozen/grey)
I feel there is a version 2 in me. For now I am very grateful that it has got me thinking about making and learning again.