NEON and Frankie Boyle Studio wanted to collaborate on a project that illustrated the responsiveness of humankind and adaptability in the face of change. The resultant project has been designed to be inviting, offer a sense of hope and joy, and activate public spaces that have been left quiet these last 18 months.

Lanterns are a universal symbol of brightness, transcendence and guiding light. In various cultures they are viewed as symbols of love, wisdom and illumination, they also symbolise 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.

“The Living Lantern” is a kinetic / 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 the interaction between the wind powered movement and the animated light sequences.

The artwork has two “modes”. In the day the visitor can experience a version where the artwork’s timber materiality is expressed then 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 NEON have used in a number of previous projects. 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.

On the lighting used in the artwork Frankie Boyle of Frankie Boyle Studio said “I felt strongly that the light should reflect and build upon the personality of the Lanterns 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”

“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 second show was 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.


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