At the start of the Dutch Design Week on Saturday 19 October and in collaboration with the city of Eindhoven’s Light-S project, Crystal has been installed in a black tunnel at Eindhoven’s famous Natlab where the public can interact with the artwork’s hundreds of LED-crystals that brighten when they are touched.

The brainchild of Crystal is Daan Roosegaarde, an artist, innovator and ambassador of the Dutch Design Week 2013. With his company Studio Roosegaarde, he explores the relationship between art and technology in a bid to make the world more interesting, better or beautiful. 

Roosegaarde came up with Crystal, which he refers to as “Lego from Mars”, in 2012. This self-commissioned project is about sharing and place making. Each white geometric crystal in the display is made out of a unique salt that grows around two LEDs, which are wirelessly charged via a magnetic mat on the ground.

This artwork isn’t static because once visitors start adding, moving or sharing crystals, their basic ‘breathing’ changes. So at times the lights will flutter quickly as though excited, while at other times they will remain still. The more people interacting with the display, the more the behaviour of the lights alter.

Roosegaarde wants to encourage as much interaction with the lights as possible. “People can play and share their stories of light in a very public way,” he says.

One visitor even proposed to his girlfriend by using the crystals to form the words “Marry me”. Roosegaarde describes this phenomenon as “Facebook Square”, where social media and light are combined to create new public spaces.

Following its display in Amsterdam, Paris and Moscow, Crystal has now moved to Natlab in Eindhoven, famous for being the place where Einstein worked, where Philips produced its lightbulbs and where the first CD-ROM was presented. The artwork is also an ideal match for Light-S, a project by the city of Eindhoven which is researching how light can create new experiences between people, space and technologies.

This is also not the last time the public will be able to experience the Crystal project as Studio Roosegaarde is continuing to explore the relationship between people and their environment and in the coming years it will develop Crystals with different shapes and colours with various high-tech companies and cultural organisations.

Daan Roosegaarde’s Smart Highway and Lotus Dome projects were both featured in issue forty-two of Curve (subscribers to the magazine can read the full story here, and new subscribers can sign up here to access this story as well as the full archive).

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