[p-com final] Light Up 2◦2◦

Physical Computing project by Jingyao Shao & Viola He

Light Up 2020 is an interactive miniature installation that uses light and projection to explore moments in mundane lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing the silhouette of 4 people living in a neighboring building, the audience is given a flashlight to shine through their windows and reveal the residents in full color, eavesdropping on their conversations, interactions, and observing snippets of their day-to-day life.

Code available here !


We were inspired by our lockdown experiences in populated cities hard-hit by the pandemic (LA & Brooklyn in my case, Seattle & Brooklyn for Jingyao) — how our daily routines changed as we spent the majority of our days home alone, and how our relationships with our neighbors evolved. We read stories from Wuhan, Milan, New York City and beyond, about people coping with the lockdown through music, art, self care, cheering for essential workers, and loving balcony exchanges with their neighbors. We hope to create a narrative, present in the form of an interactive installation utilizing paper model, light and projection, to capture that spirit.

There’s also something inherently interesting about watching and being watched that comes with urban living where we can peak at people’s lives through their windows. The interaction of spotlighting through a window is, in turn, a discussion of our voyeuristic curiosity as human beings. Playing around with the scale, this miniature installation also offers an unprecedented intimate storytelling experience.


// Programming and experimentation – refer to blog from last week! I wrote about Arduino MIDI USB, controlling madmapper with MIDI, and beginning of fabrication

// Filming & projection

We wrote and devised 4 stories with the help of some of our friends at ITP. Some characters come from our minds, some inspired by their own stories, brought to life through their improvisation acting. We setup a green screen (blue screen, to be exact) at school, and invited 3 friends as actors to interact with common objects. We filmed two sequences each, one for looping, and one to tell stories after windows triggered by light.

We used adobe After Effect to key out the blue screen and create the silhouette effect. The result was quite powerful.

// Fabrication

We hand-made a little paper model, and managed to tuck all the wires in.

not exactly the amount of tape we desired, but we’re proud of this wiring situation. The four black boxes separate each room, so that the light shining into one window won’t affect other rooms.


Actors who did green(blue) screen schemes with us – Jezzy, Philip, Mark. Late night support from peeps in this class – Anh, triple trouble group (Shin, Weiwei, Wyatt), Joy. Mai for continuous MIDI support. Arnarb for a really nice breadboard.

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