Tim van Dortmont-GROWING LIGHT

Luminous algae provide spectacle and enchantment in alternating patterns.

The transience of the blue light produced by bioluminescent algae makes for a wonderful phenomenon and a unique experience! At GROWING LIGHT, the interaction with the audience changes the pattern and intensity of the light over time.

Bioluminescent algae produce a beautiful blue light when the water is agitated. The light impulses they emit are the result of a chemical process in which a lot of energy is released. It is a defence mechanism for the algae to confuse predators.

GROWING LIGHT was designed as part of Tim van Dortmont’s graduation research at Industrial Design Engineering (TU Delft). He investigated the growth and the relationship between movement and the light impulses of the Pyrocystis Fusiformis, a type of bioluminescent micro-algae that is common in more tropical climates.

As the audience walks through the room, they trigger the orbital shakers at the bottom of the pillars with their movements. Depending on the type and speed of movement of each shaker, the algae in the pillars show different mesmerizing light patterns with varying intensities. This provides a magical spectacle of this natural phenomenon.

About Tim van Dortmont

Tim van Dortmont is a Delft designer who makes products, objects and installations.

He explores the contrast between organic materials and shapes created with high-tech production methods. With a research through design approach, he looks for alternative materials to shape everyday objects in a more sustainable way.

He graduated in 2020 with a master Design for Interaction, TU Delft. The research of his graduation project “Living Light Interfaces: An Exploration of Bioluminescence Aesthetics” was published during the ACM DIS 2021 Conference.

Scientific article

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Special thanks to TGV