The first exhibition Sirènes Sylvestres brought to life

Sirènes Sylvestres is a night-time interactive installation opening progressive light passages through the forest.

This first version was presented during the Nuit Verte of the panOramas Festival. It was co-produced by Média-Cité.

Warm thanks to Rabah, Ben, Tam and Média-Cité team, panOrama team, Lab212 and friends for their precious help.

Preparing the exhibition The production rush

The interactive light installation Sirènes Sylvestres was planned to be exhibited near Bordeaux. Its lights were designed in Berlin, to be produced in-situ.

With the great help of Ben’s family, in Bordeaux, in 3 days, we managed to produce a fair amount of lamp-shades.

Those lanterns where build out of heat-resistant confetti, and were big enough to host the light blocks. But after some tests and a couple of unexpected issues, we had to give up on using those blocks. We used instead classic halogen light bulbs, easier to attach and to plug. Here is how it looked like:

Lamp-shade made out of heat-resistant confetti, litten by an halogen bulb.

Lamp-shade made out of heat-resistant confetti, litten by an halogen bulb.

Came the time to go to the woods! The nice part was to find interesting spots for the lights to guide the visitors, but most of the time and efforts was spent on cutting and connecting cables to the lights and sensors. More than 200 meters of electric cable were running in the forest, next to the path. I’d like to warmly thank Rabah, Ben, Tam, Média-Cité team, panOrama team, Lab212 friends, Léna and her friends for their precious help.

Preparing lights and sensor.

Preparing lights and sensor.

Shortly before the opening of the event, half of the path encountered a short circuit, but the main part of the path was ready for the first exhibition of Sirènes Sylvestres!

The lights Design and prototype

Sirènes Sylvestres means Sylvan Murmaids, or Sirens from the Forest. They are materialized into interactive lights, dragging progressively wanderers into the woods. The design of such lights had to be organic and enchanting, yet to inspire a mixed feeling of trust and doubt.


LED blocks: big, heavy, super bright, and scorching.

We had the opportunity to work with a local partner, specialized in LED streetlights. They proposed to give us 40 lights for the time of the event. The challenge was to find a way to attach massive industrial LED blocks into the trees, and to design a bunch of expressive and subtle “lampshade” for it, either easy to transport or fast to build in-situ (from the atelier in Berlin, Germany, to the exhibition in Bordeaux, France).

Sketches of different ways to lit trees.

Sketches of different ways to lit trees.

My researches went on naturally lighten organic things: fireflies, glowing fishes, jellyfishes, mushrooms… Artists and designers worked on related themes: Bruce Munro and his light installations, Barry Underwood‘s works, the photographer Rune Guneriussen, and the designer Ionna Vautrin and her Moaïs lamp. Here is a collection of other aesthetic references.

As previously mentioned, to be feasible it had to be easy to build and or transport. Recycling objects was an interesting option, inspired by the lamp design of Rolph Sach and the photographies of Tim Walker, both fascinating and disturbing, like fairies and mermaids.

The other option was based on DIY paper lanterns. The Pulp Lamp, by the designer Enrique Romero, using papier-maché on inflatable molds, prove me it was possible to use this technique to produce ecological, easy, cheap, yet original and interesting shapes.

Using wire structure to constrain inflated balloons, I produced shapes that evoke insect cocoon, and some weird fruits and vegetables. Covered with paper and glue, after being dried, it becames a lantern.

Some sketches of shape researches

Some sketches of shape researches

Lamp shades inflatable prototypes.

Prototypes made out of inflatable balloons constrained into metal wire structures.

Lanterns created with this technique had the advantage to be big enough to host the LED blocks, heat-resistant if build with the right material, and aesthetically coherent with the idea of the installation. That was the chosen option to produce a couple of dozen of light-shades.