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Lunchtime talk write-up
Posted on Tue 22 Nov 2016

Illuminating Worlds

During this Lunchtime Talk, Angela Davies shared her current project SpyGlass, an interactive robotic light navigator.

SpyGlass: an immersive interactive robotic light navigator

SpyGlass: an immersive interactive robotic light navigator

Posted by

Rachael Burton

Rachael Burton

Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Producer


Angela Davies

Angela is an interdisciplinary artist who employs traditional processes with creative technologies to create responsive lighting, sculpture and installation art.

We are delighted to welcome Angela Davies as one of our newest Studio residents. Angela is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the interaction and moments of synthesis between traditional crafts and creative technologies. We were delighted that Angela kick-started her time with us by sharing her current project SpyGlass, an interactive robotic light navigator. Here are five things I learned during this Lunchtime Talk:

1. Angela has been exploring the reflective and optical qualities of glass and its interactions with light for several years. During an Arts+Tech accelerator programme at MadLab, Angela combined her research and interests to develop SpyGlass. She worked with a glassblower to learn the craft of creating glass orbs and with creative technologists to explore the interactivity and potential for light movement for the sculpture.

2. Angela used a delta robot (a parallel arm robot), which works across three axes, to act as a light navigator. The robot clasps a torch and directs the light at the glass orb; the audience interacts with the sculpture to navigate the robot’s movement. The movement of the light through the glass creates a beautiful, mesmeric atmosphere in a darkened room.

3. During the development of SpyGlass, Angela worked with researchers to explore traditional convex lens making processes. A lens captures a specific moment in time through the convergence of light rays. Angela’s explorations into animating the light became meditative and transformative experiences. She is currently exploring how she might replicate that sensation for an audience through her artwork.

4. When the technology became problematic, Angela found sanctuary in engaging with the craftsmanship of the glass forms. The glass orbs are up to 30cm diameter and require precision. Angela is considering how she might incorporate real-world data, such as environmental data, into the glass sculptures. The data would inform how the glass is made and how the light moves and illuminates the artwork.

5. As SpyGlass develops, Angela is testing different ways to present her sculptures. She is exploring the possibility of developing a modular system, so the light, robotics and glass can work holistically. Alongside developing the technology to make it more intuitive and fluid, she would like to refine and scale-up the artwork.