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White Paper: from Christmas Tree Lights to Contemporary Art - the Aesthetics of Wearable LEDs


This blog post is a bit different: it's a white paper on the aesthetics of LED costumes, and how to develop them for performances other than those with "robot dance" or Tron-style sci-fi themes.

It'll mostly be of interest to people interested in making fashion, media arts, and dance pieces using LEDs.

Download it here as a PDF


The dream of clothing which can take on any pattern, a “screen suit”, has been constant across many cultures. However, we are still far away from what is allowed by commercially available materials and technology. We must make do with the exciting, yet far from perfect, technology of LED strips. These are becoming increasingly more affordable, easier to control, and more commonplace. Cheap LED strips and controllers have been available for over 5 years, yet the development of new concepts has largely stalled. This is due to some peculiarities of the technology which make it challenging to move beyond “robot dance” performances. However, with some changes to the software and costume design, the technology is ripe for wider artistic and aesthetic possibilities. ST VITO (James Hudson and Alma Edelstein) has been developing contemporary, organic performances with LED costumes for 3 years. The directors have built up some expertise and technology in this area, and bring their prior career experiences of media arts, engineering, and dance to the aesthetic development of LED costumes.

There are several limitations which stand in the way of fully flexible, fully durable, and high-definition illuminated clothing, and this white paper outlines some possible mitigation approaches. These are: a more flexible approach to LED strip placement, more advanced non-linear texture-mapping software, and carefully chosen patterns. The main problems, and some possible solutions, are outlined below.

James Hudson

If you have any thoughts on this, please email me. Or at least "like" or "share" this post if you think others would appreciate it.

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Needless to say, this blog isn't financial or legal advice, an excuse for getting fired, or promising that any of these ideas will work for you. I really, really, hope that you don't think it is investment advice. The companies or people I mention may not agree with my opinions here. Don't do anything reckless, damaging or hurtful to anyone! In the future you might need your bridges unburnt. (c)2014-2018 James Hudson