Inefficient and short-lived incandescent light bulbs are being phased out in parts of the world like India, Argentina, and the European Union; even the UN has weighed in on the matter, saying that discontinuing them would reduce carbon emissions and save billions of dollars. But what will happen to those billions of incandescent bulbs that will be phased out?
There's only so many terrariums you can make out of these discarded bulbs; Canadian artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett of Incandescent Cloud re-use them instead in their sculptures that pair audience interactivity with artificial light. One of their recent pieces comes from their "Celestial" series, titled "New Moon," which repurposes over 5,500 light bulbs donated to them by the locals in Lexington, Kentucky. The sculpture was on display in the town's square. See New Moon in action:
Here's how the sculpture works: inside the volume of recycled light bulbs is an inner disc that modulates the direction of the artificial light, which is in turn connected to a metal wheel that is spun by participants below. When the whole central apparatus revolves, it seems as if this light bulb-covered "moon" goes through all the phases.
The opportunity for the audience to engage with the installation was a core part of the concept, using a "shared language" that allows viewers to explore larger themes, while becoming "temporary time travellers," say the artists:
With NEW MOON, interactivity offers a range of potential interpretations. In controlling the phases of the MOON, the viewer is rising into a pre-determined god-space, controlling a rendering of time. Light bulbs (particularly burnt out bulbs, crowd-sourced from local communities), ideas of light vs. dark, the connotations of celestial bodies, relational aesthetics, macrocosms/microcosms, consumer cultures, and all the rest are offered as other doors to open.
It's a (literally) brilliant way to re-purpose discarded light bulbs into a piece of art that can be enjoyed by the wider community, while also beautifying and bringing a sense of wonder to a public space. And of course, it's a gentle reminder that the moon still holds much mystery and meaning for the common person. See more of their works over at Incandescent Cloud.