Light is History

  • Publishing private energy use information for public well being
  • Critical regionalism and critical regional practice
  • Urban intervention as placemaking
  • Access related NORDES conference exhibition publication: Here

Light is History was a community-based energy art place. It was an initiative to engage citizens with issues of community well being and energy consumption in daily living through art and design research. The project’s aim was to create a community art installation using narratives of domestic electrical artifacts from the research project’s participants’ homes to be housed within customised bright light therapy lamps made from recycled domestic electricity meters. Light is History was planned during the autumnal month of November, to convey collective well being in the public space in the Kallio neighbourhood in Helsinki, Finland.

A domestic energy use consumption display artifact was installed in a public square in Helsinki in November 2012. The lamps of the installation, were made from old recycled electricity meters, that were being discarded from the smart meter installation wave that was being undertaken across the country in Finland.

These lamps were designed and built to simulate bright therapy lamps.

Sixteen participating families from in and around the Kallio neighbourhood publishedtheir daily energy use on a web portal.

The difference in their daily energy reading was used to determine the brightness of individual lights that was assigned to each family on the light installation. Each of the lamps brightened if a corresponding family’s energy use was lesser than the previous day and otherwise inverted.

The participants also provided images and textual narratives of their own electrical artifacts from their homes. This was displayed with their corresponding lamp on the installation, providing a glimpse of contemporary domestic life with electricity. A shared and collaborative energy art space was generated as a place for urban dialogue of private energy use and public well-being.

Design and Research Collaborators: Karthikeya Acharya and Samir Bhowmik

Project Technical work support: Jussi Mikkonen and Jon Fabritus

Network Partnership: Pixelache, Helsinki

Funding Body: Media Factory and Department of Design, Aalto University

Project Industry Support: Helsingin Energia

Related Publication: Acharya, K., Bhowmik, S., & Mikkonen, J. (2013). Light is History. In Proceedings of 5th Nordic Design Research Conference: Experiments in design research –Expressions, knowledge, critique. (Nordes ’13) Copenhagen, Denmark.