Nicholas Hanna

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Candle Light 烛光

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Light from a candle is a continuously variable field that emanates from a point outward. We enclosed a candle in a box covered with sensors. The sensors sample the light from the candle and are connected to corresponding cold-cathode light tubes in the space behind the box. At any given moment, a three dimensional cross section of the light from the candle is detected by the sensors and then amplified to fill the space of the room. This allows visitors to walk inside the field of the candle and experience it as a space.


Niu Miao and Nicholas Hanna met while they were working at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. The idea developed from an earlier project, “Candle Stool”, by Niu Miao which explored an inverse relationship between a light-bulb and a candle. From that starting point, the artists developed a series of concepts and iterated through a number of concepts and scale prototypes before developing the final version.


The artists designed a sensor element that embeds a photoresistor and electro-mechanical relay with a voltage comparison circuit. This element provides the fundamental interactivity of the project. It allows for an extremely fast reaction time to changes in light from the candle and a fluid interactive experience. More than 3 km of wire, 182 sensors and a corresponding number of light tubes were used to complete the piece.