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ViaLumo: The Gesture ”LI” Guided Sensory Light Installation

ViaLumo: The Gesture ”LI” Guided Sensory Light Installation
  • On September 3, 2017

“Existentially essential knowledge is not primarily a knowledge moulded into words, concepts and theories. In human interaction alone, 80 per cent of communication is estimated to take place outside the verbal and conceptual channel. Communication takes place even on a chemical level; the endocrine glands have been thought of as a closed system sealed in the body and only indirectly linked the outside world. ”(Pallasmaa, 2010) Pallasmaa describes that the world is a meaningful world, we express our ideas not only depend on a traditional linguistic way, but also through our body and behaviours, such as gestures.  He also states, “Our entire being in the world is a sensuous and embodied mode of being, and this very sense of being is the ground of existential knowledge.” (Pallasmaa, 2010) We receive signals from outside world and our response with minds. Our brains analyze, cognize it, and process to give a meaning to it, which is can be regarded as a semiosis.

James Turrell,  an American artist primarily focused on light and space, states that light can create a sense of space and what’s more make the shape static in a most powerful way compared to other materials. (Turrell&Sinnreich, 2009)Through light, “Via Lumo” can create an immersive experience to users who will go through the interaction of our various senses. The light will help users to have a more vivid visiting experience in a space. In “Via Lumo”, the light goes through the installation and create water wave pattern on the floor,  giving users an immersive feeling.

“Via Lumo” Is a sensorial and meaning-making journey of choreographed lights and movements inside a space. It heightens our awareness to vary the method we tend to understand and embody the planet around us. Each audience member is invited to construct their own imagined space through a certain gesture “Jugong” to change the light environment to inspired by the myths and memories of “Ancient Chinese Water Culture Worship”. The immersive experience made by attendance and our installation considers semiosis experience which characterizes cognition through the entity-to-environment or entity-to-entity merging process and the space-stop or time-stop merging modes.

“Via Lumo” is the latest of a serious of interactive light installations exploring the ideas of semiosis, the application of Chinese gesture “Li”, the merging process of human cognition and environment. The means used were hemisphere container, water, light, Kinect sensor, various actuators, a gesture guided system, mechanism, a dark space. The experiments and projects that led to “Via Lumo” are by chronological order:  Solid Media, Film Media, Liquid Media and the Water-light unit. Though these, “Via Lumo” tries to express the key ideas presented in this thesis: using gesture “Li” to explore the meaning-making journey, perceive the environment, merging yourself with the environment through a semiotic process, using the merging modes to understand the whole experience.

The remarks and conclusions we reached through our work gave an illustration to the design logic of our final project, “Via Lumo”. It can be installed in a future context that makes the participants more aware of the light surroundings and merging themselves within the space. Moreover, it demonstrates how the light installation can enhance the semiotic cognition towards the world and enhance their comprehension of the environment and consciousness.  This research is conduced through series of light media experiments and prototypes: at first, research on light media found marvellous light effects, let people’s cognition merged with the light environment to produce meaning towards the world.

2. Semiosis

2.1 What is semiosis? What are the processes by which we understand the world around us by interpreting the signs and symbols that are presented to us?

Semiosis is a productive process whereby we can extrapolate meaning from signs and symbols.

The Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney, Leeuwen(2005) states that “semiotic resources” surround us.  He goes on to say that “these semiotic resources surrounding us include obvious modes of communication such as language, gesture, images and music, but also less obvious ones such as food, dress and everyday objects, all of which carry cultural value and significance.” (Leeuwen,  2005) Nearly everything and every gesture can be regarded as a sign if some meaning can be attached to it. And when this meaning can be recalled through memory, knowledge and the imagination, we can then act upon it.

The human cognitive process is inextricably linked to its interaction with various life forms that impinge upon its world. Through this interaction, we make sense of the complex nature of our surroundings.

We are surrounded by vast semiotic resources: they emerge and have meaning and are associated with a functional yet aesthetic value dependent upon one’s physical, social and cultural background.(Ferreira, 2010)However, due to the over-abundance and diversity of these signs, our sensory organs only react to certain stimuli, thereby avoiding sensory overload.

“The signs and meanings that we are familiar with are often the mental representations of objects or events of the physical world.” (Barbierian,2008) We choose what we want to perceive from our environment, our brain processes these perceptions and this cognitive process result in a meaning being attached to the objects which our consciousness can then recall.

2.2 Umwelt: the process of merging semiotically

An Umwelt is one’s environment or surroundings, where communication and finding meaning (semiosis) occur. One’s Umwelt may be natural or human-made.

In his book, A STROLL THROUGH THE WORLDS OF ANIMALS AND MEN the German biologist Jakob von Uexkull(1992) introduces the idea of how organisms play an essential role in the definition of “a particular meaningful world” :

“To do so, we must first blow, in fancy, a soap bubble around each creature to represent its own world, filled with the perceptions which it alone knows.  When we ourselves then step into one of these bubbles, the familiar meadow is transformed.  Many of its colourful features disappear, others no longer belong together but appear in new relationships.  A new world comes into being.  Through the bubble we see the world of the burrowing worm, of the butterfly, or of the field mouse; the world as it appears to the animals themselves, not as it appears to us.”

The soap bubble can be seen as a metaphor for Umwelt.  We can consider each as a complete entity; we can examine how each interacts with the outside world — with the surrounding environment, with other objects and other beings.  We do this by way of semiosis which is dictated to by one’s own cognition.  The virtual sphere, the transparent bubble illustrates the surrounding environment whose shape alters when the parameters of this world change.  The boundaries of the soap bubble increase our awareness of how a single organism’s world is linked to the larger environment where other bubbles — or individual worlds — coexist.

Fig.1 Like soap bubbles, umwelten criss-cross, overlap and merge

Fig.1 Like soap bubbles, umwelten criss-cross, overlap and merge

There are two kinds of process merging semiotically, from single entity to another entity or from a entity to its environment.

(1) From single entity to another entity

The flexible nature of the soap bubble expresses perfectly the ‘plasticity’ required by Umwelt — the dynamics of the relationship between the organism and its environment.  These soap bubbles can touch and even merge, illustrating how single microcosms do not “independently coexist but frequently crisscross or even partly overlap.”

(2)From a entity to its environment

“The semiotic process that binds an organism to its surrounding environment into an exclusive dialectic relationship grants the integrity and cohesion of the umwelt.” (Ferreira, 2011) The world is a vast and complex environment; natural organisms and artefacts may be regarded as complicated bubbles to some extent. We, humans, exist each in our own single bubbles but we also communicate and interact with others, where our bubbles crisscross and overlap to then emerge as a whole.  We are our own umwelt yet also part of others.

2.3 Semiotic emerging modes — Time-stop mode & Space-stop mode

According to Ferreira(2010), Uexkull(1957) proposes that the consequence of change of perspective is twofold.We experience the environment both in an involved way subjectively, but also in a dispassionate or uninvolved way. In the analysis of the soap bubble as a metaphor for umwelt, Uexkull (1992) vpauses the bubble-transforming process, analysing semiosis during particular time fragments, that he viewed the process in a synchronic view. We can consider the semiotic emerging in two kinds of modes — Time-stop mode & Space-stop mode.

(1) Time-stop mode

Time-stop mode, diachronic mode or “historical view”, defines the entity’s evolutionary and developmental progress. It is a meaning-making process that concerns more about space.  In a diachronic mode, participants move around, taking part in a particular space, but we consider the whole process as a unit.  We observe what they experience at that particular moment and regard the space during that time as Umwelt, where people and space merge and become one consciousness. The comic book illustrator and graphic artist Richard McGuire places the reader of his pictorial story in 2014, HERE, in the space of the story so that he — the reader – can experience a journey through time; it very effectively portrays the concept of diachronic mode .(see Fig.2)

Fig.2 Twists in the fabric of space and time 1964 from McGuire's Here

Fig.2 Twists in the fabric of space and time 1964 from McGuire’s Here

(2) Space-stop mode

Space-stop mode, synchronic mode or “existential view” is where the observer concentrates on the here and now, analyzing and describing phenomena at a certain moment in time.  We effectively stay in the moment to observe the here and now, being cognizant of the environment as it happens and so merging our consciousness with our surroundings. Turrell creates a similar experience of “Ganzfeld”, and one of the light installation called “DHATU”  which was created in 2009 can explain this mode(see Fig.3). When one stands in that space, he/she participate in the light environment and emerge himself/herself into it.

Fig.3 Turrell creates a similar experience of “Ganzfeld”

Fig.3 Turrell creates a similar experience of “Ganzfeld”

3.Gesture: “Li” and its semiosis

3.1 Body in a space

“Any discussion of gesture requires a consideration of space and time and an understanding that the two might have other kinds of significance than found in the spatially bounded.” (Hevia, 2009) Gestures are always connected with time and space, they require time and space to generated by people, and people’s gestures can make time and space different. “Bodies that carve unexpected spaces through their fund or erratic motions”(Tschumi, 1995) Our bodies, the gesture generator, explore the space by themselves, cognizing the environment by their sensory organs.

Gibson(1978) states that Perception guides action in unison with environmental supports or impediments bestowed, the action successively yields data for more steering, leading to an aware perception action cycle.People have the idea to do certain because of the consideration of time and space. Their gestures have an impact on the space, and the time he executed the gesture has to mean to themselves. So we can say the whole procedure of the gesture-exciting is a semiotic process.

Fig.4 Fearful Symmetry by Ruairi Glynn, an Interative Light Installation Showed in Tate modern, 2012

Fig.4 Fearful Symmetry by Ruairi Glynn, an Interative Light Installation Showed in Tate modern, 2012

In ‘Fearful Symmetry’ (see Fig.4) by Ruairi Glynn (Interactive designer and director of Interactive Architecture Lab in the architecture school of Bartlett),  the user is displayed with associate degree setting that explores mutual affordance between the setting and therefore the user. Comprising a glowing polyhedron suspended from a three axial activating system, ‘Fearful Symmetry’ actively controls the approach the close sensory array of sunshine and sound within the house is exposed to the user.

The user uses gestures to explore the space the installation made, expiring learning what the installation what to express, using gestures to communicate with it.

3.2 “Li” (the etiquette of  interaction) and its history

Ancient China was well known as “the land of ceremony and propriety”. (Han, 2013) Traditional society, with its Confucian (described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion)filial piety as its fundamental principle, developed a set of rules on how to behave towards others according to one’s age and status and in which the etiquette of interaction between the young and elderly is at its core and foundation.

Ceremonial etiquette  – how the young should comport themselves when interacting with the elderly — is passed down from generation to generation.  From THE BOOK OF RITES(or called Li ji, a collection of texts describing the social forms, administration, and ceremonial rites in Zhou Dynasty, written by unknown writor) two thousand years ago to the scholar and thinker Zhu Xi’s(a Song dynasty Confucian scholar) PRIMARY(a book about how traditional etiquette,  written by Zhu Xi) and RULES(a book about how traditional etiquette) of the Song Dynasty, Chinese canonical texts have stipulated the correct way for the young to behave in daily life.

“Show the greatest respect to nature and then to the elderly.”Â  This is the guiding principle when dealing with the etiquette of interaction in Ancient China: it shows that nature was regarded as having as much importance as the elderly.  The RECORD OF RITUAL states that “offering sacrifice to Heaven is the highest expression of reverence.” In the face of nature, mankind should always act with humility. Even the ancient emperors expressed their respect by worshipping nature.  The Chinese believe that the life we lead should be in harmony with nature and so the way we interact with it should be emulated in how we interact with the elderly.

3.3  Gestures representing “Li”

There are many gestures which present the Chinese etiquette, the most common ones are Jugong, Zuoyi and Ketou.(see Fig.5)

Fig.5 Diagram of Jugong and Ketou, gestures represent Chinese traditonal etiquette

Fig.5 Diagram of Jugong and Ketou, gestures represent Chinese traditonal etiquette

3.3.1. Jugong

Jugong, or “bowing ceremony”, originated in China during the Shang Dynasty, first appearing in a sacrificial ceremony to nature or “Ju Ji”.  This custom is still in practice today in some parts of China, with people following this form of etiquette to show their reverence towards their elders.

Jugong is evident in China, Japan, South and North Korea, as well as other Asian countries.  One expresses one’s respect by “bending the salute”.  The lowness of the bow is dependent upon the circumstance and to whom one is bowing.  Nowadays it is the Japanese who have the best known bowing culture and so I have chosen Japanese bowing etiquette as an example to study more closely.

Fig.6 Jugong has 5 different types, and as the degrees of body increases, the levels of repect raise. (From top to botoom and from left to right, the name of gestures are Muli, Huijian, Jingli and Zuijingli)

Fig.6 Jugong has 5 different types, and as the degrees of body increases, the levels of repect raise. (From top to botoom and from left to right, the name of gestures are Muli, Huijian, Jingli and Zuijingli)

In many cultures, the lowness of the bow depends on the special circumstance.  Japanese Jugong can be divided into four classifications, based on the level of worship or veneration.  The most minimal form of bowing is a nod of the head (“Muli”)(see Fig.6), using eye contact to say hello.  Then comes “Huijian” (see Fig.6) with its bowing angle of 15 degrees. “Jingli” (see Fig.6), always used in an office environment nowadays, requires bending one’s body to 30 degrees to show respect.  The most formal example of jugong is “Zuijingli” (see Fig.6), which demonstrates a deep feeling of respect.  These bows are determined by the circumstance one finds oneself in, the people one meets and the emotion one feels.  A bow of 90 degrees shows the utmost respect and is reserved for those moments when the bower has made a big mistake or has committed a crime.  Normally, one bows only once.  But in China, it is customary to bow three times in succession at funerals (including state funerals), when one is worshipping one’s ancestors and at other serious and formal occasions.

3.3.2 “Zuoyi” and “KETOU”

“Zuoyi” is the less formal way of greeting compared to “Jugong”.  The standard Zuoyi posture for a man involves making a fist with his right hand and wrapping his left hand over it.  As the fist symbolises an attacker, so the left hand in its wrapping motion symbolises goodwill.  The woman’s hand position is opposite to the man’s, but she does not make a fist.  This can be attributed to the ancient Chinese tradition of “Left for Men, Right for Women”.  (see Fig.7)

Fig.7 Gestures of Zuoyi is various out of gender.

Fig.7 Gestures of Zuoyi is various out of gender.

“Ketou”(see Fig.5) or kneeling ceremony is a higher level of gesture compared to “Jugong” and involves the hands or the whole body touching the ground.  When they “ketou” (or kowtow), people pay their respects to God in prayer, make requests, or give thanks for having had a previous request answered.

3.4 The semiotic nature of “Li”

The use of semiosis in human interaction in a social context is a system where humans can exchange information with one another.  Gestures are one of the main semiotic processes in social and cultural settings.  This kind of semiosis can result in particular types of social encounter and can also be constrained by the social conventions of regulations, customs and propriety.

The human cognitive process is inextricably linked to its interaction with various life forms that impinge upon its world. Through this interaction, we make sense of the complex nature of our surroundings. The rituals and practices of Li are used to communicate with others, especially those one respects, but also to show reverence for nature and God. Culture constrains this gesture-based means of communication, and social context, especially in the greeting rituals carried down from ancient times. During the human cognitive process to Li, we not only interact ourselves with the ancient etiquette but also with the meaning attached to it.  We choose what we want to perceive from the environment and recall the ancient’s attitudes towards nature to make the whole experience more meaningful.

However, in the synchronic mode of semiosis, they can be merged together to generate new meaning in certain situations.  For example, when one uses “Jugong”,  one can also put one’s hands in the “Zuoyi” position to express a higher degree of respect.  “Ketou” includes parts of “Jugong” in some ceremonies.

Seen from a diachronic and semiotic merging standpoint, let us imagine two people meeting each other using Li gestures.  They both wish to express their minds and do so by showing each other the appropriate gestures which are recognised by the other and responded to.  In other words,  The Umwelt of this meaning-finding trip is humanmade kinds. It makes people who use Li’s gestures emerge his/her entity to one social background. Their separate memories, knowledge and experience become connected and this cognisance enables them to make exchanges of information.

4. Light and its environment

4.1 Lights, space and cognition

The American architect and lighting engineer Lou Michael(1996) explains how the visual system is the most complicated and sensitive sensory system.  Compared with other sensory systems such as touch and auditory senses, it reveals visible space, providing the most efficient way of constructing the concept of space in one’s mind. We can “hear” a space and “smell” a space, but we cannot precisely envisage it in our minds and give it meaning. Only with light and vision can we consciously and directly construct space. That is to say, we see the world through the medium of light.

“We eat light, drink it in through our skins. With a little more exposure to light, you feel part of things physically. I like feeling the power of light and space physically because then you can order it materially. Seeing is a very sensuous act – there’s a sweet deliciousness in feeling yourself see something.”(Turrell& Sinnreich,2009) Light connects human consciousness and the physical world.  The brighter the environment, the more detailed is one’s visual perception.  Light is one among the great materials that creates a way of the area and which may form area even once static.The light will generate entirely different and distinctive atmospheres and therefore many states of consciousness within the same house.

Fig.8 Forest of Light, Sou Fujimoto, Milan, 2016

Fig.8 Forest of Light, Sou Fujimoto, Milan, 2016

In “Forest of Light” (see Fig. 8), a light installation by the Japanese designer Sou Fujimoto, area has controlled lighting that challenges the observer’s perception of edges. Light and people interact, the former’s movement dictating the changing space around them: cone-shaped beams pierce the black room, fading off and on in response to movement. The observer’s experience of the changing light effects is enhanced by being present in the moment, coupled with his memories of past experiences with light.

4.2 Exploring different light environments

“Visual experience is a way to interact with the surrounding environment, resulting in thought, behaviours and reactions.” (Oregan & Noë, 2001)  Therefore, we can create an immersive experience through the interaction of our various senses.

4.2.1 Light media and their environment

We researched three kinds of light media – solid, film and liquid media – to explore and find the best lighting effects.  We also created an interactive prototype to explore lighting effects more thoroughly, investigating the different light effects offered in a space.

(1) Solid medium and its environment (see Fig.9 & Fig.10)


Fig.9 Experiments of Solid Media

Fig.9 Experiments of Solid Media

With our researches on single prisms and a combination of prisms, we found that the light environments of the solid media were solid; in other words, the light they made had clear edges and lacked variability.  We built a prototype using a combination of prisms, changing their rotating angles whilst controlling the distance and angle of the light source, to see how the prisms combined with each other, creating an interactive light environment.

(2) Film medium andits environment (see Fig.11 & Fig.12)

Fig.11 Experiments of Film Media

Fig.11 Experiments of Film Media

The light edges of the film media were unpredictable. It was hard to control the light effects as minimal changes in such things as the angle of the light source, and the combination of folds resulted in massive changes in the light environment.  We built a twisted iridescent film prototype, connected to two servos. It reacted to gestures we made via Leap Motion ( a sensor device that supports hand and finger motions as input), with the x-axis and y-axis controlling each of the servo’s rotating angles and the z-axis controlling the speed of the servo.

(3) Liquid medium and itsenvironment

Fig.13 Experiments of Liquid Media

Fig.13 Experiments of Liquid Media

The liquid medium, specifically in the employment of the medium of water, has a vivid lighting effect, easily controlled variables and logical connection between the variables of lighting effects and the environment (see Fig.13) We, therefore, chose water as the light medium with which to create our light installation.

4.2.2 Water: the most vivid and controllable light medium

We did several experiments to learn more about water as the light medium.  We changed the shapes of the water containers; we altered the light incident angle and its height; we changed the ways we triggered the ripples of water.  As a result, we found that the hemisphere container was the best container as it could create a clear projection on the floor.  When we triggered the ripples, the edges of the projection could be controlled and the pattern projected onto the floor was very attractive (see Fig.14)  The patterns projected on the floor are related to the distances between light source and floor. We did more research to find out how the variable influenced them and discovered that it decided the size of the projection and if the edges of the pattern were clear or not. (see Fig.15).

Fig.14 Water Patterns Projected on Floor

Fig.14 Water Patterns Projected on Floor

 Fig.15 Size of ripples is affected by height of light sources and projected screen.

Fig.15 Size of ripples is affected by height of light sources and projected screen.

Based on the research we had done, we next built a prototype which we hung on the ceiling.  We put an LED light source on the unit and triggered the water ripples with the use of a servo-driven paddle.  We then created different projected patterns by varying the speed of the paddle.  The light passed through the hemisphere container and projected patterns onto the floor, making an edge to space and thereby creating an interactive environment.  This interactive environment could be seen as an Umwelt with its feature of plasticity, its changing shape creating a blurred edge.  Correspondingly, the participants’ visual cognition changed as the lighting as the lighting environment changed.

We simplified the gestures from “Jugong”, using its top-body gesture as our trigger monitored by Kinect. The top part of “Jugong” represents the worship of ancients towards water culture. As our installation uses water as one key element, and according to Li’s semiosis process, we want to make participants to emerge themselves into not only the light environment but also experience “Li’s” culture that gesture represents for. Besides,  this meaning-making journey recalls through memory, knowledge and the imagination of Li; the participants can then act upon it. In conclusion, our installation creates a human-made “Umwelt” to let the participants merge themselves firstly with the environment, and finally with Li’s culture behind it.

We then submitted our proposal design passed on this prototype, putting the various effects in an arrayed order in a large space.  We wanted to explore the process of semiotic merging and see the whole effect in two semiotic merging modes.

Fig.16 "Lumo", Prototype of Proposal Design

Fig.16 “Lumo”, Prototype of Proposal Design

5. Proposed design

5.1 “Via Lumo” components and basic function

Via Lumo is a sensory and significant journey through a space of choreographed light and movement.  It heightens our awareness, changing the way we perceive and embody the world around us.  It is an array of the single prototype (Lumo) mentioned in 4.2.2.  Each of the components consists of a hemispherical container containing water comprising 1/3 of its volume, one servo-controlled paddle, one Arduino controller and a hanging structure.  There are three different sizes of hemispherical container: 18, 26 and 32 cm respectively.  The resulting design dictates the height of the lights based on the combination of the projected patterns and the participants’ angles of view.  The size of the space is 6m in length, 4m in width and with a height of 3m.

Fig 20. ViaLumo

Fig 21. ViaLumo

The sensing device that captures the gestures is Microsoft Xbox 360 latest Kinect V2.0.  Kinect V2.0 is an input device that senses lines of motion and is primarily based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral. It permits users to manage and move their console or computer through a natural user interface, using gestures and spoken commands.

“Via Lumo” responds to people’s gestures and movements that are captured by the information the Kinect receives.  More specifically, an application has been designed in Processing, a flexible software package volume and a language for learning a way to code among the context of the visual arts and interactive design.  In this programme, the gesture is captured and turned into data through the Kinect sensor.  This installation updates that of Arduino in each unit of the array and correspondingly actuates each unit to create light projections on the floor.  Through different data, it can create various combinations of light patterns.

“Via Lumo” is updated in real time; its function will be explored in future experiments.  The goal of these experiments will be to explore how light installations can facilitate the merging of participants’ awareness of their environment.

Fig 19. ViaLumo

Fig 19. ViaLumo

5.2 Merging process and two Merging modes

To test “Via Lumo” we plan to carry out a further experiment.  We will consider each person as an entity and the “Via Lumo” as the Umwelt or environment.  We will then invite the participants to walk around in the “Via Lumo” space, using gesture or “Jugong” to control the switching on and off of the lights and the vibration of the projected water patterns.  Thus they will create an interactive environment and enjoy different light experiences.  After the experiment is over, each participant will be interviewed about their understanding of “Jugong” gesture and the ancient Chinese worship of water, their awareness of the space and the extent to which they merged with that space.

Fig 20. ViaLumo

Fig 20. ViaLumo

Two merging modes will be applied in the experiments:

(1) Diachronic mode or historical view

We will regard the process of one person’s movement as one single unit.  During his experience of “Via Lumo”, the participant will be asked to focus on the trace of the movements they make and how they feel during that time.  Do they feel that they are merging with space?

(2) Synchronic mode or existential view

We will also investigate certain points during the “Via Lumo” experience, describing and analysing the light phenomena at those points and how the participants feel.  Do they believe they are merging with the time?

After conducting these two experiments, we will conclude from the results they bring.  Should we deem it necessary, we shall rethink the design to enable people to make a more sensory and meaningful journey inside the “Via Lumo” space?  By experiencing this space, does it help to heighten their awareness and open up new ways to perceive and embody the world around them?  Lastly, will it improve the participants’ understanding of “Jugong” and the myths and memories of the ancient Chinese worship of water?

Fig. 22 ViaLumo

Fig. 22 ViaLumo

Via Lumo is a sensory and significant journey of choreographed light and movement within a space. It heightens our awareness and changes the way we perceive and embody the world around us.  Each participant is invited to construct their own imagined space through using certain “Jugong” gestures, thereby changing the lighting around them and hopefully heightening their connection to the ancient Chinese worship of water.  This immersive experience.

6. Conclusion

“Via Lumo” was tested with a series of experiments to find the best light environment the media can make to create an environment where people use gesture “Li” to interact with the light installation, firstly acknowledging the  “Ancient Chinese Water Culture Worship”, showing respects to nature’s will. After gestures monitored by “Via Lumo”, a light environment will change accordingly and the visual sensory organs of the participants receive stimuli, proving visual is the most direct sensory organ in our body. Combined with one knowledge and cognition process, what they have learned from the light environment will create meaning. The environment is an elastic environment; the light effect is a tool to help it to emerge with the participants’ mind. The emerging is a meaningful process.

“Via Lumo” explores the ideas of challenging body boundaries with the environment. “Via Lumo” as an interactive light installation and design proposal explores the idea of elasticity of environmental boundaries. To create the light environment, “Via Lumo” examines series experiments on light media and its light effects, finding out water as a medium can create the best environment for users to merge their cognition with the environment. “Via Lumo” uses traditional Chinese gesture “Li” as a trigger to conduct the merging experiences, meanwhile, introducing the users to the respect of nature through the use of the installation.

“Via Lumo” offers us the chance of changing into additional conscientiously responsive to one’s own body. Once these unlimited prospects of spatial experience acknowledged, the design will re-condition us to become overstimulated in an exceedingly semi-predictable manner. We tend to believe, in turn, reinvigorates the physical and visual relationship between design and its inhabitants.


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Xu.T, Yang.S & Sun.H.(2013) Japanese Bowing Ceremony. Chinese & Foreign Entrepreneurs.

Gibson, J. (1978). The Ecological Approach to the Visual Perception of Pictures. Leonardo, 11(3), p.227.

Uexküll, J. and Uexküll, T. (1992). [A stroll through the worlds of animals and men] ;Jakob von Uexküll. [S.l.]: de Gruyter.

Image References

1. Figure 1: Like soap bubbles, umwelten criss-cross, overlap and merge. Available at:

2. Figure 2: Twists in the fabric of space and time 1964 from McGuire’s Here. Available at:

3. Figure 3: Turrell creates a similar experience of “Ganzfeld”. (2007) Available at:

4. Figure 4: Fearful Symmetry by Ruairi Glynn, an Interative Light Installation Showed in Tate modern (2012) Available at:

5. Figure 5: Diagram of Jugong and Ketou, gestures represent Chinese traditonal etiquette. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

6. Figure 6: Jugong. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

7. Figure 7: Gestures of Zuoyi is various out of gender.  Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

8. Figure 8: Forest of Light, Sou Fujimoto, Milan, (2016)  Available at:

9. Figure 9: Experiments of Solid Media. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

10. Figure 10: A Prototype Made by Prisms, Controlled by Leap Motion. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

11. Figure 11: Experiments of Film Media. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

12. Figure 12: A Prototype Made by Prisms, Controlled by Leap Motion. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

13. Figure 13: Experiments of Liquid Media. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

14. Figure 14: Water Patterns Projected on Floor. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

15. Figure 15: Size of ripples is affected by height of light sources and projected screen. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

16/Fig.16 “Lumo”, Prototype of Proposal Design. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

17.Fig.17 “Via Lumo”, Rendering. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

18.Fig.18 “Lumo”, Interaction System. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

19.Fig.19 “ViaLumo”. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

20.Fig.20 “ViaLumo”. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

21.Fig.21 “ViaLumo”. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

22.Fig.22 “ViaLumo”. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)

Video References:

  1. Here (1991)

  2. Leap Motion + Solid Media.  Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)
  3. Leap Motion + Film Media.  Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)
  4. ViaLumo Prototype. Bian, Chen and Sun. (2017)
  5. ‘Forest of Light’ — COS x Sou Fujimoto

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