New Circuits for Dancing with Light

Justin Lange

A study of the history of objects that extend human limbs in dance, their problematic LED corollaries in contemporary EDM ("electronic dance music") culture, and the creation of a new Light Instrument that affords dancers artistic choice.


LEDs wands, poi, hoops and other "light-up" instruments and toys constitute a desired aesthetic in EDM culture, but as tools for individual movement-based expression, they are no more expressive than a flashlight. Most LED devices have only two states ("on" or "off"), or offer preprogramed sequences. Several state-of-the art POV ("persistence of vision") devices allow custom images to be uploaded, but none allow immediate control over LEDs' expressive potential, such as luminance or hue. To encourage light dancing that is not simply pretty but also expressive, I created a new hand-held kinetic instrument with onboard sensors and controls that allow dancers to spontaneously generate and display novel light patterns while dancing.