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Geist: A Galaxy of Lights Brought to Life by Creative Coding

Geist Audio Visual Light Installation / This Is Loop

Alan Hayes

London-based creative studio This Is Loop has just unveiled an extraordinary audio-visual light installation called Geist at Canary Wharf Winter Lights. This remarkable artwork is not just a sculpture, but a captivating interactive experience. Geist combines the power of light, mirrors, illusions, motion sensor cameras, and intricate creative coding to create a mesmerizing galaxy of lights that respond to the audience’s presence.

Geist Audio Visual Light Installation / This Is Loop

Working with world-leading particle physicists, This is Loop have been inspired by the elusive neutrino or ‘ghost particle’ and Geist explores the hunt played out in enormous neutrino detectors to prove the existence of these particles. Geist is a touring artwork designed for exhibition in the public realm and is expected to see audiences of upwards of 2 million over 5 years.

Geist Audio Visual Light Installation / This Is Loop

Geist is a large-scale sculpture shaped like an octagonal carousel, 6m in diameter, each of its faces a 3x3m window into a figment of reflection and light, created by a mirror illusion and showing a suspended illuminated orb. The illusion is interactive; only by the proximity and movement of the audience, does the suspended particle of light come to life. Individually addressable LED modules start flickering and glimmering in the presence of people. The public is the cause of the artwork’s existence, their interactions eliciting a response from the artwork; a version of the ‘hide and seek’ played out in a neutrino detector where only an interaction with an atom reveals the neutrino.

Geist Audio Visual Light Installation / This Is Loop

The scientific narrative of Geist has involved input from particle physicists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Physics Department at Oxford University. The collected group of physicists has provided access to and context for real neutrino oscillation measurements from the T2K neutrino experiment in Japan. In collaboration with new-media artist Motus Art sound artist Dan Bibby, This is Loop has re-interpreted actual neutrino interactions seen by T2K, using input from motion sensor cameras and complex code, into the animation of moving light and audio for Geist. The type of ‘neutrino’ seen will depend on the neutrino oscillation probabilities from T2K. When the audience ‘interacts’ with the sculpture, Geist will reflect a visual and audio representation of the detection of a neutrino.

Geist Audio Visual Light Installation / This Is Loop

This is Loop is a creative studio based in Somerset, led by Harriet Lumby and Alan Hayes. They are known for their award-winning audio-visual artworks that have been showcased worldwide, attracting over 1.5 million viewers in recent years. Their unique sculptural pieces combine reflection, moving light, and illusion, creating a captivating experience that blurs the boundaries between art, science, and technology.

Geist Audio Visual Light Installation / This Is Loop

“We are super excited about unveiling Geist, the artwork has been a collaborative effort to take deep scientific theory and data and interpret it into a public artwork. Neutrinos are one of the most significant areas of current scientific research and have the potential to answer fundamental questions about the existence of the universe,” says Alan Hayes, This is Loop. “We’re honored to have the support of the STFC and the physicists at Oxford University and to get the opportunity to work with real data from the Kamiokande Neutrino detector in Japan is a dream come true.”