• 11.16.11

Installation Lets You Bend Light Like Isaac Newton [Video]

That is, if Newton had trippy ambient music and an iPad interface.

Twenty-odd years before Newton stated the three laws of motion, he conducted a simple, breakthrough prism experiment. He poked a hole through his window shade, allowing a single beam of light to shine through. Placing a prism in the light’s path, he broke the beam into its color spectrum. If light were composed of a rainbow of colors, he reasoned, he should be able to recombine them into white sunlight by passing them through a lens and a second prism. He was right.


Inspired Newton’s work in optics and color theory, media-arts company Wonwei teamed up with design studio Super Nature Design to create Prisma 1666, an interactive light installation consisting of 15 triangular crystal blocks, which refract and disperse projected colored lights. Visitors can use an iPad interface to change the rotation and angles of projected graphics, offering an opportunity, Wonwei writes, “to experiment with these elements like Isaac Newton did so many years before us.”

The installation was made its debut at Shanghai’s International Science and Art Exhibition, where it received the best creative design award.

About the author

Belinda Lanks is the editorial director of Co.Design. Before joining, she was the managing editor of Metropolis.