This interactive installation consists of salvaged table lamps, which the artist invites viewers to turn on or off to create the look and feel of the work. A data logger dynamically monitors the flow of electricity through the circuits in the gallery. When all of the lamps are on, the light from the illuminated bulbs overwhelms the space and freezes the animated fireflies on the plasma monitors. Turning all of the lights off produces an increase in the velocity and number of fireflies. Through visitor choice, the artwork consumes large or small quantities of electricity and immediately visualizes this consumption. darkSky aims to make tangible the often difficult-to-grasp issues of the aesthetic, economic, and environmental impact of an individual’s energy choices.
As an electronic media artist, Holmes is often confronted with the issue of sustainability, as much of the technology used in her work consumes large amounts of energy. Due to constant technological advancement, her materials must also be continually replaced, creating electronic waste. Holmes addresses this challenge by reusing existing lamps. Additionally, the table used in the installation was created from sustainably forested birch and bamboo.
Holmes is an associate professor in the Department of Art and Technology Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she teaches courses in environmental art, history of electronic media, and interactivity. She also maintains a blog, ecoviz.org, which chronicles new developments in her emerging practice of eco-visualization—making hidden ecological information visible to the public.
Travis Saul, programming
Lucid Design Group, electricity monitoring
Tim Peloquin Carpentry, custom table
Greenmaker Supply, bamboo plywood