Audiovisual Installation Lets You Experience Northern Lights
Artist Bertrand Lanthiez's project recreates the atmosphere through tangible, A/V interaction
Not everyone will have a chance to experience the Northern Lights even at least once during their lifetime, and for those few who are lucky enough to experience the phenomenon, describing the experience to other people can be a challenge.
Finding it difficult to describe the Northern Lights to the people around him, Bertrand Lanthiez, a French graphic and interactive designer and new media artist, created an interactive, audio-visual installation that allowed people to experience the phenomenon for themselves.
To create his project 65° – 75°, Lanthiez traveled to the most northern cities in Scandinavia to collect data surrounding the lights. The artist captured images, recorded sounds from his trip, among other things.
Lanthiez created 65° – 75° as his diploma project for his masters degree in ESAG Penninghen in Paris. He presented his project in two parts: as a book and as an installation.
The book served as a journal or travel log of his trip and included different pieces of data such as photographs, weather reports, coordinates, paths and roads taken, as well as personal accounts of his state of mind during the journey.
The installation allowed people to go on a quest for the Northern Lights. It consisted of a three-dimensional space formed with fabric and a map of Lanthiez’s trip sewn with touch-sensitive conductive thread on a fabric.
Lanthiez wanted the users to experience what he experienced by following an itinerary drawn on an “almost indecipherable map” and finding the path that he took in his journey. Whenever the user goes on the right path, they trigger light and sound pulses that are projected on the curtains that surround the user. Throughout the experience, the users had to remain silent because their voices could disrupt the light effects.
On his website, Lanthiez wrote,
Each thread was connected to an electronic circuitboard (Arduino) that sends messages to a computer. These messages are scanned and converted within an audio-visual software in real time. A microphone placed in the console captures the sound atmosphere. The software analyses the tune and its loudness and generates appropriate perturbations onto the projection and through the sound.
Lanthiez suspended pieces of fabric to create a three-dimensional space where the user can experience the lights and sounds of the installation. The sounds used in the installation were the ones Lanthiez recorded during his 10-day trip to the North. The video projections were motion design-made with After Effects.
Read more about the installation on Lanthiez’s Behance page. You can also watch his video about the project below.