Pulsing waves of light emerge from a hazy layer of smoke, and a minimalist soundtrack of discordant notes chime out of the darkness. This black hole-like installation is the handiwork of Seoul-based Kimchi and Chips (Korea’s Mimi Son and the UK’s Elliot Woods), a studio set up in 2009 to explore the meeting point between code, materials and design. Commissioned by Manchester-based digital arts festival FutureEverything and British Council Russia for the Russian festival New Media Night, Light Barrier uses millions of beams of calibrated light to create a series of graphic shapes that seemingly float in the ether.
It was an interest in the Impressionist painters’ fascination with natural light that drew Kimchi and Chip to swap brush strokes for descriptive code and explore the possibilities of digital light. To get the effect, the pair used 180 curved mirrors to create an array of sub-projectors, which allows them to control the origin, direction and intensity of light as it travels through space. The installation’s name refers to the universal law which stops anything from travelling faster than a photon.