unglu [ŭn-glōō'] to separate or detach as if overcoming an adhesive agent: to unglu a sticker from a wall.

This design blog is a collection of architecture, art, media and objects that detach, float, hover, suspend, unglue and locate in the air. They come in many forms: augmented reality, light, particulate, projection, physical pixels, solid, and virtual. They involve the extremes of space and physical interaction, and present themselves with a sense of wonder and curiosity.

Man With No Shadow

Beam me up, Scotty! Artist Makoto Tojiki transforms a 3D LED grid into a pixel person reminiscent of the Star Trek teleportation machine. Titled “Man With No Shadow,” Tojiki’s LED man was exhibited at the Salone Satellite event in Italy in 2009. Here’s a poetic quote from Tojiki about his work - “An object is seen when our eyes capture light that is reflected from the object. If we extract just the light that is reflected from ‘something,’ are we still in the presence of that ‘something?’ Using contours of light, I try to express this ‘something.’” More from Tojiki coming in future posts.

checkout the concept video here.

watch the finished sculpture video here.


Book a Bloon! Yup, you can make a reservation now to get one of the first spots on a Bloon flight (sometime between 2013-2015). What’s a Bloon you ask? It’s a $150,000+ private adventure in a balloon that can take you to the edge of space being developed by Zero2infinity. Bloon’s objective is to advance human experience beyond its current limits, by allowing you to see the most amazing views of the earth’s bluish glow while nearly skimming the thin edge of our delicate atmosphere. 

watch the Bloon concept video

Watermarks Project

Here’s another great example of an artist using light to bring public awareness to an environmental issue. Chris Bodle, UK artist and architect, uses projected light on sides of buildings to show how high water levels could potential rise and dramatically affect cities near water in his Watermarks Project. Bodle’s work is influenced by climate change and warns of its  increasing force that brings new confrontations between nature and culture. Another phase of this project is currently being developed and should be exhibited in London by the end of 2011.

Memory Cloud

Memory Cloud is based on smoke signals, one of the oldest forms of visual communication dating back over 5,000 years. Created by Minimaforms, an experiential architecture and design team, Memory Cloud transformed London’s Trafalgar Square into an ambient and responsive environment by provoking an ancient form of communication and using it to facilitate a modern adaptation. The project explores the dynamic and spatial abilities of both smoke and light through public text messages. Participants are free to communicate a public message by sending a text to one of two smoke signals. These messages can be sent from remote locations and displayed for the audience that is present.  The fluid messages of light and smoke allow the audience to walk-through the words and interact with their entire body.

click link to watch video of Memory Cloud

Ocean of Light

Ocean of Light, a project by digital arts group Squidsoup, explore the immersive possibilities of individually addressed points of light set in a matrix. The points are choreographed to simulate movement in physical space. The materials respond to nearby noises by creating ripples across its surface and luminous firework-like blasts. Invisible ‘agents’ in the room navigate the environment and relay the results via the Ocean of Light. This piece is much more than a visualization of environmental noise. “When you are within it or in the room and completely surrounded by this stuff it becomes much more than a visual sensation, “says Anthony Rowe creative lead of Squidsoup. “You sense it with your whole body. Even if you clase your eyes you can feel the ball of light moving around.”

click link to watch video of Ocean of Light.

Odaiba Water Show

Every year, the annual Odaiba water illumination show in Tokyo, projects an hourly 15-minute slide show depicting the birth of the Earth on a 15-meter-tall and 40-meter-wide fan-shaped water screen. The 15-minute show lasts for three weeks at the end of the year to attract holiday shoppers to the nearby shopping center, located off the shore of the Odaiba Seaside Park. The technology that makes the show possible consists of water pumps and jets to produce the large water spray, and submersibe projectors to place the images on the water screen. The fine particulate screen provides an ephemeral display for the earthly images. The light bounces from droplet to droplet, creating a delicate movement and 3-dimensional image.

Above Two swans, below fireworks projected onto fountain at Odaiba Water Show.

click link to view video of Odaiba Water Show.


In a darkened room a matrix of 64 moving, helium-filled balloons each containing a bright whit LED floats in space like the atoms of a molecule. This collaborative piece titlted Atom has been performed by visual artist Christopher Bauder and Robert Henke at Centre Pompidou in Paris, at Tesla Berlin, and at several other festivals in 2007 and 2009. The weightless objects represent three-dimensional digital data organized in a dynamic composition of physical particles. The balloon ballet is built out of synchronized movement, lighting, and music.  According to Henke, three types of synchronized relationship patterns can be achieved. First, “a multiple particle situation where the individual the individual balloon is not important anymore but rather an overall experience of some flickering, living organism is achieved. The second type of interaction is a strict mapping of discrete musical events to visual gestures and patterns. This typically produces the most breathtaking and massive impression. And in a third step there is musical events that are synced to the sequencing of the LED patterns but not directly related to them.”

Henke and Bauder immersed in their installation.

click on link to watch video of Atom.


Imagine the pixels of your computer screen breaking away and surrounding you in a brilliant swarm of three-dimensional digital information and imagery? This is exactly what the project Flyfire, imagined by researchers at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab and ARES Lab, attempts to achieve. Flyfire uses remote controlled, self-organizing, choreographed “mini helicopters.” Each helicopter contains small LEDs which function as a physical pixel in 3D space. “Flyfire opens up exciting possibilities: as on a conventional screen, pixels can change color, but now they can also move, creating a transient trace of light in three-dimensional space,” said team member Carnaven Chiu. “Unlike traditional displays that can only be seen from the front, Flyfire becomes a three dimensional immersive display that can be experienced from all directions.” Flyfire is conceived as an installation of pixels that recharge every few minutes and perform in public space. Recent advances in battery technology and wireless control make Flyfire a possibility. It brings visual communication a step closer towards ‘smart dust’ — the idea that computing is becoming increasingly smaller, addressable, pervasive, and persuasive.

click link to watch video of Flyfire.

Raster Image Display and Zoom-transformation of pixels.

LightArt Kijkduin

Illuminated glass globes of different colors and sizes, measuring between 20 and 40 inches in diameter, are spread along the dunes and natural elements of Kijkduin, the southern beach resort of The Hague, Netherlands for the LightArt Kijkduin Biennial. The orbs of light constantly change their colors after the sun sets in the evening. Even during the daytime, when the lights are not lit, the white globes create an unreal and strange calming effect. Context plays a big role with the emotional sensations of the pixels. Located near the water, they take on a very organic mood, as if they are cellular life-forms that have washed ashore. Across the river is an industrial park which adds a new contextual dimensional to the globes. They take on a toxic connotation as they glow and the factories in the distance pump-out smoke.

click link to watch video of Kijkduin globes at night.

Happy Clouds

28-year old London artist Stuart Semple has made lighter-than-air foam smiley faces using a flogo machine. A flogo machine, invented by two special effects inventors in the 1990s, uses glycerin, food dye, and helium, and extrudes the resulting mixture through a die to create floating logos. Semple has used this technology to release one pink-tinted happy face cloud every 7 seconds near the Tate Modern and Bankside walkway in London. The Happy Cloud installation is intended to be a message of hope and positivism in reaction to the gloom of current economic and natural disaster events. ‘I just wanted to make a piece of work that would cheer people up a bit.’ he continued saying, ‘I know at times like this it’s easy to make creativity a low priority, but i want to show that on a very human level an artistic idea might be able to do something important even for a fleeting moment. This was the most straight forward way I could think of to literally contribute something happy to the atmosphere.”

An audience gathers near the Tate Modern to watch the happy clouds float into the air.

click this link to see a video of the Happy Clouds installation.


Fogscreen promises a “walk-through” branding experience and new medium for advertisers to captivate and fascinate audiences. It’s a screen that blasts microscopic fog droplets made from tap water, ultrasonic waves, and patented technology developed by virtual reality researchers. This curtain of “dry” fog serves as a translucent projection screen for displaying messages, graphics, images, and video that literally float in the air. One of the most recent developments of Fogscreen is an interactive add-on tool kit. “ One of the main practical applications that the interactivity function provides is treating patients with cognitive disorders or rehabilitation, says Jorden Woods, president of Fogscreen. “The FogScreen adds an extra incentive of excitement and wonder for patients, to the point where they forget they are actually rehabbing.” Fogscreen is currently developing three-dimensional imaging capabilities for the screen to increase the immersive experience.

Viewers walk through FogScreen at technology trade show.

click link to watch video of Interactive FogScreen.


Companies go under, their stores close, and their signs and logos are taken down and demolished. “These pieces of typography are all unique design objects, why should they be demolished,” says Aleksi Hautamäki, founder of the Finnish company called Character, which recycles unused signage. “We choose the letters that have character, take them, replace the old neon tubes with LED’s, check that they are ok and put them on our website.” Recycling is an integral concept behind the business. “Sustainability of this product is not superimposed, but in the very essence of it,” explains Hautamäki. “The second life cycle creates new value for everybody involved, the sign maker, the producer, the retailer and the customer.” The individual letters are sold online and priced depending on their size and shape. The alphabet lights have a life span of 30,000 hours, which means that if left on for 8 hours a day, they  will last at least 10 years. Character has detached storefront signage and turned the solid typography into relocatable objects of light and sculpture.

Letter ‘S’ from old storefront sign transformed into modern light.


Chris Levine describes his project “Equanimity” as visual echoes. His sensorial and experiential piece projects imagery onto the viewers’ peripheral vision using an unnerving imaging technique he pioneered. In this work, his historic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II appears in an instant only to disappear when you look directly at the 6’-6” vertical strip of oscillating LEDs. Chris uses light as a medium to hide images in the background of our surroundings. When viewed in the peripheral these images expand and exist in space. Imagine if every light you passed soon had hidden oscillating imagery inside ready to expand into the world as you passed by it. Advertisements could be tucked into streetlights, or wedding photos could be hidden inside a table lamp.

Levine’s work at Lightness of Being Show, London

click this link to watch video of Lightness of Being Show.

Capacitive Body

The installation “capacitive body” is a modular light system of electroluminescent light wire linked to a piezoelectric sensor and microcontroller. The system reacts to unnatural, low frequency, inaudible sound disruptions in the environment, like the rumble of car traffic. The vibrations of the architecture trigger the wire to pulse in bursts of violent light flashes. Increasing vibrations decrease the time between pulses, and the nervous system collapses and restarts after it reaches a maximum level of intensity. Like many other detached projects, this system visualizes unseen environmental data, in this case, noise pollution. A dynamic light space is thereby created, which creates a visual feedback of the aural activity around the installation. Capacitive body was created by Martin Hesselmeier, a German visual communication and audio designer.

Exhibition Tschumipavilion Groningen, NL, 2009

click this link to watch video of Capacitive Body.

Air de Paris

In Paris’s Parc Andre Citroen, a 12-story tall, 72 feet diameter balloon floats permanently 500 feet above the ground. The balloon titled “Air de Paris Balloon" monitors the quantity of the most harmful air contaminants and particles found in the atmosphere, and relays this information back to the city by using an easy-to-understand color coded illumination. Visible from over 12 miles, the colors range from green - signifying clean air - to red - signifying very polluted air. The balloon is equipped with two light systems reflecting two different pollution data streams: one, located within it measures the city’s ambient air quality, while another, situated at the base of the balloon collects in real-time the air pollution produced by auto emissions.

Green signifies clean air over Paris.

click link to watch video of Air de Paris.