• LightbugGarden
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  • Purple Membrane swimmers
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Light Bug

Interactive Light Swing for public spaces and playgrounds, commissioned by REACT Play Sandbox

Light Bug Magic Garden explores the playground of the future with a digitally enhanced swing that brings responsive light, colour and sound to festivals and events and future playgrounds.

It invites people of all ages to play through digital interactivity. Working with light, rhythm and sound to create an interactive welcoming environment. As people swing, they start to take over and control lights in the area - lighting up trees with colour and creating a magical garden.

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
'The Swing' Robert Louis Stephenson

The playground swing is one of life's simplest pleasures. Feeling your suspended body move through space, rising and falling in a fixed arc that flows first with then against, the pull of gravity, is both thrilling and reassuring. It remains a peerless, timeless invention and an open invitation to play, for children and adults alike.

That's why I created Light Bug. It's a magical, interactive reinvention of the swing that brings additional dimensions of light, colour and sound to the experience. By imbuing the intuitive, classic structure with facets of new digital and interactive technologies, the swing takes on a character and personality that can be developed by the 'swinger'. Using sensors embedded in the structure which respond to presence, modes of use and methods of play, and using game mechanics developed by the artist, Light Bug takes the art of the swing to the next level to show us a glimpse of the future of the creative playground and create a truly immersive and mesmerising experience that will thrill and delight children and adults of all ages.
I love the swing
I totally want the swing
Mum I want one

- participants at The Rooms Festival
The Light Bug project was funded by REACT Play Sandbox - a programme that support collaborations to develop new products or services for children. It has been designed to bring together companies, young people and academic researchers to develop prototypes that mobilise play in new transformative ways.

Play Sandbox is produced by iShed, part of Watershed on behalf of REACT.

Photos by Max McClure, Paul Blakemore, Seth Giddings and Tine Bech.

REACT is a collaboration between the University of the West of England, Watershed, and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to initiate collaborations between arts and humanities researchers and creative companies.

Photos by Paul Blakemore, Seth Giddings and Tine Bech.