Light-writing

Flickr Color Flash by txkimmers

Light Writings is group for creating and sharing photographs with one thing in common - glowing text hanging in space. One of many communities hosted by the Flickr photosharing webservice, Light Writings has simple rules for what goes in and what stays out:

Post your pictures of TEXT ONLY light writings here. And if you have any special techniques, post those in the discussion. Please post words only, no designs. Thank you.

The group features photographs of floating text, created with long exposures and a bright light source. Is this digital text? The images are annotated with tags - but so are all other images on the Flickr site. Some of the images are taken with digital cameras - and some aren’t. Most, however, have a decidedly analog style, as almost all of the submissions to the group pool are hand-crafted with flashlights, lighters, sparklers, etc.

Another pattern by wirehead a.k.a. Ken WronkiewiczKen Wronkiewicz however is a contributor who been working on an amateur electrical engineering project - a homebrew circuit board that lets him write with LEDs in midair. His resulting photos are part gesture, part algorithm.

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“The biggest advantage of the gen2 board is that all I need to do is download a new version of the software and I’ve got a different pattern.”

Wronkiewicz is an artist / programmer with a history of art projects involving light - beginning in 3D rendering and moving to illuminated sculptures, long-exposure photography, and light writing. In addition to posting artistic creations, he has posted a digitally annotated photo of the device itself - a move which caught the attention of the do-it-yourself hipsters Make Magazine.

“This should be the sort of thing that a qualified electrical engineer would whip out in a matter of minutes. But, I’m a programmer who likes to mess around with technology, so things sometimes take a little longer than they ought to.”

Of course, devices for rendering pixelated text in midair with LEDs are not new. They have been available as consumer novelties for a few years now. Products with floating message LEDs include clocks, wands, spinners, and, more recently, cell phones. Last year, the possibility of a widespread cellphone-LED convergence lead (which has yet to materialize) led some to speculate about a new form of public speech, dubbed “airtexting” in comparison to SMS “texting.”

Wronkiewicz is coming at light-writing from a different direction then the telecomm giants, however. His long-exposure photography resembles the looping scrawls of his light-writing peers on Flickr more than it does the tightly controlled floating “miracle text” featured in advertisements for commercial devices. His homebrew attitude also fits with a hobbiest and tinkerer tradition of building devices and then sharing the designs - so whatever he comes up with, odds are others will both be inspired on it and have the opportunity to build directly upon on his work.

“There’s something vaguely soothing for a geek like me to code in assembly on a very small system. […] More programming and patterns to come soon.”




1 Response to “Light-writing”

  1. 1 Patrick Hoelcher

    used digital camera. exposure of about 3 seconds (each letter was done on its own).

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