03/ Light Design for Art

Ion/Gio (Light Board)  Vectorworks  Design Research  Curating  Design Thinking  Project Management

Creating interactive light design experiences for fine art shows on display at Princeton Unviersity.

Specialist theater lighting for “This Wonderful Memory” (Hurley Gallery, 2022)


Through my connections in the Theater and Visual Arts Program at Princeton University, I built creative and interactive light experiences for fine-art shows. Using my skills in theatrical light programming, alongside my curating background, I worked with artists to create new visual languages for their shows. This case study will detail my design thinking and collaborative process for these displays. The shows I’ll be speaking about are “Chicken Chicken Chicken” (Samm Lee, 2022) B&M (Silma Berrada, 2022), and “Radical Composition” (2022).  

01/ Radical Composition  

Professor Campt challenged her class to exhibit the physical and virtual objects created as part to her week-to-week classwork. The contrast of the physical-to-virtual was a problem. The physical objects required light, while the computer screen’s and projection monitor needed darkness. In addition to this, the CoLab Gallery in which Radical Composition was being exhibited did not have a traditional fine-art rep-plot in place. There were only florescent light strips across the ceiling. The installation process did not leave enough time to install ceiling fittings, so all lights would have to come from the floor or block units.

The light needed to prioritize each work equally, while leaving some darkness to reflect the serious subject matter of the emotionally charged pieces of work which explored race and societal inequities in American history.

02/ Chicken Chicken Chicken

A show which creates life-size artifacts of anxiety, from pill bottles to teardrops, Chicken Chicken Chicken (cont) turns mental health into a play object. The artist, Samm Lee, wanted the light in the gallery to reflect this playful, artificial and bright theme of her artistry. She wanted the audience members in her gallery to be lured in by this bright light, and then have to sit in the discomfort of the real subject matter of the work. Using the rep-plot I had already installed for my previous show, I worked with Samm to readjust and shift the lights and use bright colors, as well as put the installation on a timer in which it changed subtly throughout the day.


03/ B&M

B&M (2022), written and directed by Silma Berrada was a play and art show. Attended throughout the day, Berrada’s set-objects were stand alone art pieces. At night, B&M was a play with theatrical light shifts. The show was conducted in the CoLab (Princeton), a room which has no permanent light fixtures outside of florescent light from the ceiling.

For B&M, I did draft a new rep-plot in Vectorworks. Given the availablility of lights, we had limited options but went for some standard LED fictures installed on the ceiling. Given the ceiling was very low, it limited our options for how we could angle and create light. Another limitation was darkness in the room - given the CoLab has white painted walls, light reflects easily. It made particularly the theatrical nature of the room difficult to work with. I had to invent a new visual language of what “darkness” was for this room, and how the room could transform between an art space to theatrical one.

By creating extreme dark-blues, I was able to separate pieces of the room which are supposed to be “dark” to those which are supposed to be in focus in “light”. Between scenes, by creating the dark blue, the audience would be knowing that the stage is in “darkness”, and a scene begins when there is “light”.

 Thank you for being here! I’m excited for you to see my work!