Perhaps no other class of animals shows as much variation in size, shape, and general aspect as Aves. A quick look at bird-inspired products we've reviewed on 3rings reveals everything from an elegant and leggy whooping crane (Katana Floor Lamp), to diminutive song birds (Nightingale Light), to an adorable little starling (Birdy Chair). But today's post--an intriguing light installation by Design Drift called Fly Light--is arguably the most innovative of the bunch.
Fly Light. Designed by Design Drift.
Taking its cues not from a bird's outward appearance but rather from the tantalizing mysteries of flock locomotion, Fly Light is a collection of 160 light-infused glass tubes hung at varying heights in a swirled configuration. The arrangement is scenic enough when dark, but when someone approaches, the individual bulbs flicker and dash in a pattern that resembles the waxing and waning of birds in flight.
If you've never seen the phenomenon I allude to, take a look at Design Drift's Fly Light Video. This tremendous flock of black birds appears to have a propulsive life all its own--as the birds deftly negotiate the hazards of leading and/or flying too close to a flock-mate, the great mass pulsates from within, resembling an oversized, skyward jellyfish. Design Drift modeled Fly Light (beginning back in 2007, which gives you some sense of its complexity) after this apparently indiscernible pattern, which is actually anything but: "this behaviour is not so accidental as it looks... every bird has to keep a safe distance from their neighbor bird in front, below, above, and next to it. They all want to fly in the middle of the group and no one wants to be the leader flying in front. What will happen if an intruder interrupts?"
Fly Light intends to answer this query by positioning the spectator in the role of the latter. The 160 lights are programmed with a bird's "digital DNA" and equipped with ultrasonic sensors, which means they illuminate in random sequences depending on the "intruder's" proximity. The result is a spontaneous display of phosphorescent evasion and approach as, like birds, the individual lights must stray from the threat without falling off the back. The most alluring aspect of the installation is its unpredictability. The lights alight in a non-repetitive way, taking their cues from the density of the approaching mass (meaning a more dramatic response for more visitors, or an especially frantic reaction when flanked on multiple sides). As Design Drift observes, "the interesting part is the free will of the flock: does the group attack the viewers one by one, or will it split up and flee?"