10 interactive artworks light up Canary Wharf

A bridge that lights up as you walk across it, beautifully lit wire sculptures and other light-based works are dotted around Docklands.


Canary Wharf's Winter Lights kicked off with a family event last weekend that my son Adam and I went to check out on Sunday, which featured a series of temporary installations. More on those later.

The quality of the artworks is variable. Cédric Le Borgne's La Biche is quite wonderful. It has three elements: a beautifully lit wire sculture of a deer (shown here) and two abstract wire sculptures that twinkle as lasers appear to stroke them from above.

Read to see more from Canary Wharf's Winter Lights exhibition.

Adam was a big fan of Daniel Iregui's Control No Control. This is a big cube covered in LEDs, on which animated geometric patterns appear in reaction to how you move and touch it.

It's an immediate piece that's good fun, if a little derivative of the early work of the likes of UVA.


Another directly interactive piece is Tine Bech's Playable City. A bridge is illuminated with blue lights. As people walk across it, sections of the light change and smoke is blown across them.

It's a piece that works for those viewing it from a distance away as much as it does for those making it work. We heard squeals of delight from children walking over the bridge, which is unlikely to be matched by office workers on weekdays – except perhaps those later in the evening who've had a few drinks..

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German duo Heidi and Bernd Spiecker's Lightbench changes colour using parameters you can control using an Android or iOS app.


The bench overlooks the ice skating rink.


The bench overlooks the ice skating rink.

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The Lightbench is accompanied by the warming Heatbench – useful in winter evenings.


Less successful were Raoul Simpson's Binary Woodwork and Cinimod's Ice Angel. The former (shown here) attempts to turn an avenue of trees into a binary clock, but the link between the two is impossible to discrern.

Ice Angel is designed to let you create digital snow angels by flapping your arms in front of an LED board. However, it didn't seem to work for children or shorter adults and it was kind of underwhelming after seeing Chris Milk’s wonderful The Treachery of Sanctuary at The Barbican's Digital Revolution exhibition last summer.


Last weekend's family-oriented temporary installations had some more interesting artworks. Best among these was Impossible's Lightweight, a 4m globe with four projectors inside it.

The artworks projected onto it featured rough renders of faces of anyone who wanted to take part (including Adam). These were captured by members of Impossible using a cardboard-covered contraption housing a webcam and a Mac mini.

Lightweight was possibly the best of the installations because it's not just interactive - but participatory, not only in seeing your face next to others taking part but in that being captured meant interacting with another human being.

Canary Wharf's Winter Lights runs until January 30.

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