Nicholas Tamás

Projected Light & Sound


Projected Light & Sound is not an individual design but a collection of design experiments. These experiments explore the interactive nature of projected light and video, the replication of natural phenomena through holographic reproduction, as well as an exploration of the liminal effects of captured light. These experiments were condensed into two interactive exhibits where an audience of users were invited into a space to interact with and experience the lighting effects for themselves. The first interactive experiment explored the recreation of a natural phenomenon, fire, through a digital facsimile via the creation of a moving hologram. The second experiment is more interactive and allows the audience to become active participants in the exploration and creation of the lighting effects. This is done through the manipulation of projected images within platonic solids that have infinity mirror surfaces that transform them into lighting hypersolids through their manipulation of light.

pale fire

The first of the lighting exhibits, Pale Fire explores the effects of projected light on transparent surfaces. This installation builds on the optical illusion of Pepper’s Ghost. This illusion works by having a transparent reflective surface reflect the light from an illuminated object in a dark room adjacent to the surface but hidden from view of the audience who can only see the transparent surface. The resulting effect is a hazy after image of the illuminated object. Pale Fire builds on this effect by having a reflective image on four surfaces simultaneously. The result is the illusion of a floating three dimensional object composed only of light, a hologram. Combining this effect with video then gave the illusion that the object was in motion. To achieve this a fire animation was created within Houdini, an digital animation software suite, with camera angles shooting the animation from 4 different sides to correspond to the four different sides of the pyramid. This setup created 4 rendered videos that were then merged together to create a single video within Adobe After Effects. The final video made to be reflected onto the plastic pyramid from the ipad screen also included recorded audio from a campfire.

The installation consisted of an indoor space where the screen and speakers were hidden under a series of logs. An audience of people were invited into the space where they could gather around and interact with the holographic fire as they would a normal campfire. The term pale fire is a reference to the 1962 novel of the same name and is also indicative of the hologram fire’s nature as a facsimile or imitation of the real thing. The purpose of this was to draw attention to what is lost when translating something like fire into a reproduction that can be safely displayed indoors. It looks like a fire. It’s relatively the same size as a fire. It’s arranged in a space that resembles spaces one would experience a fire in. It even sounds like a fire. But there are qualities and attributes that are lost in this translation. It no longer provides the heat and warmth of a real fire. It doesn’t give off the smell of a fire. A person can’t cook or roast things over it, taking away from it’s communal nature. These are some of the interactions and themes that I explored with this experiment.

Left: A single frame from the animation made in Houdini

Right: A screenshot of the animation layout in Houdini.


A look at the installation and interaction around "Pale Fire."

Infinite Horizons

Infinite Horizons is an installation that builds on our collective understanding of light, color, and the projected image. The installation itself consists of a small projector pointed upwards perpendicular to the ground. This projector is projecting a sequence intercut found footage and self made fractal elements upwards into an empty space. It also makes use of a distorted audio track to create an ambient mood of distortion and confusion.

The interactive components of the installation are composed of several platonic solids that have transparent faces. These faces are coated in a one-way mirror that allows more light to pass through the surfaces and less light to pass out of them. The result of this effect is that any image or light that enters the solid will be continuously bounced and refracted off of the interior faces of each solid but will still remain visible from the outside. Each solid has a different number of interior surfaces and are different sizes. This creates different variations in the patterns and video being reflected depending on which the user chooses.

During the installation, the audience is invited into the space by a card illustration to pick up the  different solids and hold them over the projection. This allows them to see the different variations of effects and patterning that they can create based on the different combinations of solids and video being played. In this way, the user gains an increased understanding of the physics of light and becomes a participant in the creation of the work itself. This experiment ,unlike the previous one, makes the audience active creators of the work by forcing them to interact with and use the presented objects in order to generate the desired lighting effects.


A look at the installation, setup, and interaction around "Infinite Horizons." Users acted independently and as groups to move and manipulate the mirror boxes around the lighting projection in the center of the room.