Ilanel and the 39 Steps

An interactive lighting installation at JAHM’s (Justin Art House Museum) central staircase. Commissioned by Leah and Charles Justin and brought to life in collaboration with David Smith/ DigiSen.

39 steps is an installation that mediates between light and darkness through transparent colour. It is a rich immersion of play, experiment and the unpredictable.

Through its choreography of light shows the central staircase at JAHM becomes an experience that transforms the perfunctory in a built environment into something random, and unexpected.

As people walk up and down the four flights of stairs, illuminated step rises are randomly triggered by motion sensors embedded in the architecture . Each flight becomes a LED screen, where light shows illume and fade, race or trickle up and down and side to side.

No ascent or descent is the same. As the subtle interplay of lights and pattern change the way people feel, they become animated, excited, playful and curious.

The desire to create an unpredictable experience of rhythm, spectrum and illumination demanded technical innovation. Transforming each step required 60 RGBW pixels, more than 2100 pixel chips, almost 6,500 thousand channels and 1500 lines of programming code to give the appearance of random variegated light shows.

39 steps is never static, it will continue to evolve with more light shows, experimentation with screening content, and play of form.