"The Living Lantern" by NEON & Frankie Boyle Studio aim to offer hope through periods of darkness
As Covid-19 spread throughout 2020, governments, businesses, and individuals around the world undertook unprecedented measures akin to wartime efforts. Countries have been put into lockdown, schools closed, events canceled, factories shuttered, millions told to work from home, and emergency funds released. No economic cost has been too big to stem the spread of the disease. Coronavirus is proving that it is possible to make dramatic changes and economic sacrifices to save lives.
NEON and Frankie Boyle Studio wanted to collaborate on a project that illustrated the responsiveness of humankind, and how we are capable of adapting to change and working together when we face new situations. The resultant project has been designed to be inviting, to offer a sense of hope and joy, and to activate public spaces that have recently been quiet and felt unsafe.
This project is called “The Living Lantern”. Lanterns are a universal symbol of brightness, transcendence, and guiding light. In various cultures, they are viewed as symbols of love, wisdom, and illumination, and also symbolize the inner light that guides the soul through periods of darkness with the promise of a new day. Lanterns remind us of our ability to find our way in the world and speak to our innate inner strength.
About The Living Lantern
This is a kinetic and light installation. It has a dynamic, wind responsive outer membrane that opens and closes to filter the light from its core. Visitors are invited to spend time observing an object in constant transformation. This project has a meditative effect, as the structure is constantly evolving according to interaction between the wind-powered movement and the animated light sequences.
The artwork has two “modes”. During the day, the visitor can experience a version where the artwork’s timber materiality is expressed. In the evening, when it’s dark, the artwork is activated with light, much like a real life lantern.
The Living Lantern employs a kinetic mechanism that NEON have used in a number of previous projects (for example Shiver House). The component used is constructed of Koskisen Thin Plywood, which is counterweighted with a steel nut and bolt. The mechanism used means that the component sits horizontally when there is no wind, but lifts up or down when there is a breeze to close up the structure.
We purposely decided not to make the lighting interactive or responsive. Instead, it is designed to act as a portal for the viewer to access their own inner world.-Frankie Boyle of Frankie Boyle Studio
On the lighting used in the artwork, Frankie Boyle said “I felt strongly that the light should reflect and build upon the personality of the Lantern's breathing membrane. The light sequences have been designed to evoke a meditative state in the viewer in a similar way to when we observe a candle flicker over time. With this in mind, rather than having a noticeable beginning and end, the sequences on the Living Lantern are abstract and in constant transformation. This approach means that people are able to spend as much or as little time with the artwork as they choose. We purposely decided not to make the lighting interactive or responsive. Instead, it is designed to act as a portal for the viewer to access their own inner world. From a technical standpoint, the lighting for the Lantern was developed on a volumetric platform that allowed sequences to appear to be moving three-dimensionally around the sculpture. This dramatically changes the appearance of the lantern, but also the environment surrounding it as it is bathed in coloured light”
From the outset, the Living Lantern was designed to be a tour-able artwork. With this in mind, the frame for the project was developed using CNC technology, which offers precision and accuracy and allows parts to be replaced with ease. This approach meant that the artwork could be designed from a series of components that fit together like a jigsaw on site, allowing for its install and uninstall with relative ease. Engineers Elliott Wood were engaged to help refine the frame for the artwork and to ensure it is structurally sound in an external environment.
The Living Lantern was shown for the first time in Brisbane, Australia as part of the Word Science Festival and Curiocity, a 17-day festival that celebrates science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths (STEAM). The project is currently on show in Hsinchu City, Tawain as part of the Taiwan Light Festival (formerly the Taiwan Lantern Festival, which was rearranged due to Covid-19), and will then appear at numerous locations worldwide as part of a 5-year global tour.
“Since the emergence of Covid-19, we have collectively lived through a profound period of uncertainly and anxiety. We hope that the ever changing nature of the Living Lantern might draw people in, inviting contemplation, reflection, and daydreams.” said Mark Nixon of NEON.
This project was kindly supported by Koskisen Thin Plywood.
Life is monotonous. We are often wrapped up in our thoughts as we move from place to place. We can become blind to the environments and objects we interact with. NEON was founded to elevate the everyday.NEON empathizes and listens to ensure that their projects resonate with the people who use them. They manipulate familiar materials in ways previously unimagined. They design with every sense in mind to deliver once-in-a-lifetime emotional experiences. NEON is an award-winning design practice based in the UK. The studio was founded to investigate the territory between architecture, art, and design. We have worked on projects ranging in scale from objects up to monumental art installations.
About Frankie Boyle Studio
Frankie Boyle is a UK-based visual artist who specializes in the language of light as her form of expression. Light enriches our lives.With light comes vision, wellbeing, and hope. Frankie’s work explores how light, colour, and form blend to create sensory experiences that connect the story you want to tell with the emotions of those who experience it.