The Light is History project brought together a community of sixteen families, living in apartments around the Kallio neighbourhood in Helsinki. Each participating family was assigned a lamp that was part of a light installation located in a public square in Hakaniementori. The lamps of the light installation were made from recycled old electricity meters and were aimed to function as bright therapy lamps during the final autumnal week of November 2012. The participation from the community entailed publishing their domestic energy usage once a day on a web portal that fed the light installation. The difference in their daily energy use was used to determine the brightness of the individual lights of a light installation daily. Thus if a family consumed less energy on a day than the previous day, then its lamp would be brighter than the previous day, if otherwise it would go dull. The aim was to co-create the outdoor light installation as a public space, as a energy and well being dialogue between the private homes and the public space.

The participants also provided images and small textual narratives of their own electrical artifacts from their daily lives and this was displayed on the installation. A shared and collaborative context was created as an energy art space that gave a glimpse of our contemporary life with electricity and also resulting in an energy art space that was open and powered by the people.

The project wishes to continue as an initiative to engage citizens with issues of community well being and energy consumption in daily living through art and research. It has received support from Aalto Media Factory and was being carried out under the Pixelversity initiative by researchers and students from Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture in December 2012.

Karthikeya Acharya and Samir Bhowmik

Aalto Media Factory