Humbug Tree

Humbug Tree, animated light sculpture

2004: LEDs, electronics, firmware, mica, masonite, copper, iron
11" X 14" x 2"
15 second cycle

This was my first idea on the road to light art. I was growing up in Brooklyn, and my bedroom windows looked out on the street. The windows of other houses on my block seemed to compete for the the most spectacular display of Christmas lights.

I conceived the idea of creating a window display which would appear to be flashing Christmas lights, but would spell out "Humbug." On Canal street I found a sequencial switcher, which could do the job. I began to connect Christmas lights, but before I finished, Christmas had passed. Never-the-less I was fascinated by what the switcher could do, and the result became the first version of my first light work: a geometric animation of Christmas lights I titled Photon 1. Subsequently I replaced the sequencial switcher with a keyboard, so the animations could be performed, instead of sequenced. Thus I became involved in visual music..

Some 35 years later, the "Humbug" idea was still first on my list of unrealized projects. When Vernita N'Cognita, director of Viridian Artists Gallery, invited me to participate in a holiday theme show, I finally set to work on realizing it. Instead of Christmas lights, I used LEDs (light emitting diodes) because they don't burn out as frequently as Chistmas lights.

In the first movement of the piece, the green LEDs illuminate the familiar form of the fir tree. In the second movement the LEDs begin to twinkle, and in the third movement, the LEDs spell out "HUMBUG," one letter at a time.


2004 "YOU/US," curated by Vernita N'Cognita, Viridian Artists, Chelsea, NY
2005 Collection of Dr. George Leonard, Redwood City, CA