Reactive Sparks, 2008

Munich, Germany

For a permanent installation of seven LED steles on a grassy verge of the Mittlerer Ring, one of the busiest roads in Munich, a responsive, temporary artwork was developed based on the concept of translating kinetic energy into light.

Reactive Sparks reflected the incessant flow of passing cars and visualised the energy emitted by them. A camera-tracking system registered each vehicle, which then triggered a wave of light on the steles as it passed. The waves followed the vehicles in real-time over a length of 70 metres between the first and the last stele. The constant flow of light symbolised the activity in the space.

The artwork also served as a visual collective memory. The light trails were cumulative, growing steadily brighter over the course of the day as the number of cars increased. A gentle haze of light in the morning became a bright storm of light by the time darkness descended on the city. The artwork’s interaction with the immediate environment created a direct link between the drivers and the location. Passing drivers could see that their movements made them part of the artwork, increasing their awareness of the place and their involvement in the problems that beset it.

Reactive Sparks was commissioned by Osram, Munich.