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Disco Meets Computer Vision In This Stunning Light Show

Fifty disco balls, three projectors, and a lot of math–that’s what it took to create the wet dream of any 21st-century Tony Manero wannabe–a brilliant installation titled Light Leaks originally designed and made by Kyle McDonald and Jonas Jongejan, produced for the Click Festival in Helsinger, Denmark, by Juliette Bibasse.

Kyle–who defines himself as “an artist working with code”–and Jonas, a creative technologist at Google, wanted to turn the fun chaos of light bouncing off a disco ball into a tightly controlled environment. They clustered together 50 disco balls in a room and built a 3D model of that setup in SketchUp. Then they created the patterns that they wanted to project over the room in a computer program. Using a 3D projection mapping–a technique that deforms and projects images taking into account the three-dimensional physical shape of the projection surface–and some pretty intense math magic, they were able to know how every pixel of light was going to hit and bounce off the balls’ mirrors, creating the desired light patterns in the room.

The result is a light show that maintains the same familiarity of a disco floor but in a structured way, placing every single dot of light in a precise pattern and transforming a known experience into something unexpected. Kyle says that it creates “a space that alternates between a meditative state and an uneasy imbalance. An experiment in combining a found object with computer vision in order to create a profound and unusual experience.”

It is on view at the Music Center in Los Angeles.