[ISEA2019] Artists Statement: Jiabao Li, Honghao Deng & Allen Sayegh – Twinkle: A Flying Lighting Companion for Urban Safety

Artists Statement

drone, electronics, LED, resin, dimensions variable.

Imagine a city with flying light: as night fell and darkness creeps in, all of a sudden there’s a bright sparkle, and another – one by one lighting up the city street. Soon the sullen city comes alive, orchestrated with a natural rhythm of Twinkle.
Lighting, as one major part of urban infrastructure providing areas with an abundance of potential witnesses, contributes significantly to feelings of safety. However, the current city lighting system that leaves many areas uncovered induces unsafe perceptions and instigates crimes. The addition of ubiquitous surveillance is an intrusion on privacy and does not take real-time actions. The cold, lifeless light shines in the darkness, trapping people in the solitude of silence. These absences motivated us to create Twinkle – a luminous transformative creature inhabits on light posts. They are curious aerial animals attracted by human activities. During the daytime, they rest on urban light posts for charging. At night, they interact with individuals walking on the street in their own way based on their distinct personalities. Twinkles’ behavior and habit help people have a better observation of the surroundings. Meanwhile, this indifferent act exposes the individuals attempting to conduct misbehaviors to dazzling light to prevent crime ahead of time. In this way, there is no more blindspot in dark streets. When one twinkle is out of battery, it flies back to the light post, and send another Twinkle to continue following to guide people all the way back to home.
Twinkles are indirect lighting solutions for improving urban safety without surveillance. For everyone’s daily life, urban lighting is no longer a cold, immutable infrastructure but a new form of companionship with personalities and responses. We envision a future that appliance goes beyond machine and becomes a companion with us.

  • Jiabao Li works at the intersection of emerging technology, art and design. Her work opens questions about technology’s influence on human perception, identity, and emotion. Her research-based projects range from wearables, projections, drones, installations to scientific experiments. She holds a Master of Design in Technology degree with Distinction from Harvard GSD, USA. Jiabao’s work has been featured in Domus, TechCrunch, Yahoo, CCTV, Yanko Design. Her work has been shown in Milan and Dubai Design Week, ISEA, CHI, SIGGRAPH, and PRIMER. She is the winner of the Fast Company Award, iF Design Award, Future Cities Award, and ISWC Design Award.
  • Honghao Deng is a computational designer. He holds a Master of Design in Technology with Distinction at Harvard GSD, USA, and was a researcher at City Science Group, MIT Media Lab, USA. Recognition gained in the design and interaction community includes Golden A’ Design Award, iF Design Award, Future Cities Award. His work has been covered by Domus, CCTV, ArchDaily, Arab News, the National and Metropolis Magazine.
  • Allen Sayegh