The Light Rings project is an underwater light installation developed as part of the Copenhagen Light Festival 2020.

Light Rings aims to investigate how lights inspired by the patterns of bioluminescent organisms, mainly deep sea jellyfish, may attract humans in similar ways to fish.

The piece consist of 8 rings in sizes from 71 - 122 cm in diameter all equipped with programmable LEDs. The rings are made from a buoyant material and has been treated to withstand long term exposure to saltwater as well as to be submerged to several meters below surface level.



Inspiration

The inspiration for the artwork comes from my continues fascination with bioluminescent organisms and their ways of utilizing light for as wide a range of functionality as hunting, communicating and defending themselves. Among these organisms you may find bioluminescent worms, mushrooms, algae and probably most well known - jellyfish. Since bioluminescent jellyfish mainly exist in tropical waters or in very deep oceans I decided to make a piece that would simulate a swarm of said jellyfish and put them somewhere unexpected.


Originally the idea was to put the rings into a lake or similar body of water and let them run on battery, however, after talking to the Copenhagen Light Festival I got the oppotunity to put them into the canals of Copenhagen duing the festival.


Working principle

The system works by anchoring each ring to the bottom of the harbor. From each anchor is tied a rope that goes all the way to a centering disc that allows for 3 strands of additional rope to keep the buoyant ring oriented horizontally while underwater. The rope can be cut longer or shorter to determine how deep the ring should be located.

The LEDs mounted in each rings are powered and controlled with a wire running alongside the rope and onto the bottom of the harber until reaching the controlling hardware located above water. From here mains power are transformed down to what fits the LEDs and MCU's are powered and programmed to animate the rings in a circular and pseudo random fashion.


Creation

This project has some very specific design and production challenges. First the rings has to be very buoyant and be able to withstand saltwater, wind and tides for many weeks. Secondly both data and power has to be transferred over relatively long distances under water. Finally all the controlling electronics has to work continuously in a less than ideal environment. So naturally I can't go into detail with all the processes that we had to go through in order to make this piece but from the pictures below you might get an idea of what it took to actually make this.