Dancing with light in IGNITE's Ballroom

November 2, 2021

TU/e is pulling out all the stops this lustrum year for GLOW. With no fewer than ten light installations, as of November 6th our campus will be one of the four hot spots at Eindhoven's light art festival.

The Ballroom can be found in the MetaForum Market Hall during GLOW. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

GLOW is coming to town! For a whole week the city will again be bathed in a pageant of wondrous light as the 2021 edition of the GLOW light art festival gets underway this coming Saturday. One of the four places to be is our very own TU/e campus. Tim de Jong, team manager of student team IGNITE, and Sietse de Vries, former IGNITE team manager and enthusiastic member of Hypar Collective, talk about this year's GLOW projects, and about their passion for light.

Imagine this: you walk into the MetaForum Market Hall and twelve light beams move towards you. Challenging you: let’s dance! They move seductively about you, and respond to your movements. Music played by Quadrivium accompanies them and the dancers of Footloose weave in and out of the scene. This is Ballroom: one of the ten artworks in light on the theme 'Transformation of Light' that can be seen on our campus during GLOW 2021. Student team IGNITE has produced Ballroom, “blending a performance artwork with a technological marvel and a traditional GLOW installation,” says IGNITE’s team manager Tim de Jong, enthusiastically.

IGNITE was set up in 2016 as a committee of the study associations Lucid (Industrial Design) and CHEOPS (Built Environment), with a remit to produce an installation for GLOW 2016. IGNITE later developed into a TU/e innovation Space team. In 2018 the team presented ‘Loop’. This installation served as the pilot for the 2019 installation ‘Hypar’: an impressive interactive structure of light-emitting blocks that stood in the city's main market square during GLOW.

Tim de Jong (left) and Sietse de Vries. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

New generation IGNITE

In September 2020 the IGNITE team decided it was time for something new. A new generation of fifteen student team members at various departments formulated a new mission and vision. This year they are proudly presenting ‘Ballroom’ in the MetaForum Market Hall; an installation realized using the tracking infrastructure of the TU/e Crowdflow Research Group.

“When I was an undergraduate studying Architecture, Building and Planning and wanted to do something with light, TU/e didn't yet have anything on offer,” tells De Vries. With IGNITE we plugged that gap quite nicely. Last year we felt ready to take things further and to recruit a new generation of students. We 'oldies' moved aside and set up our own foundation. Tim has taken over the baton from me; he's the new IGNITE team lead.”

Tim de Jong: “I entered the picture two years ago. I was studying Physics and wanted to do something I'd enjoy alongside my studies. This wish led me to the pre-master program of Industrial Design, which I'm now doing; the engineering combination appealed to me and I wanted to produce something appealing. A group of four of us started to define the new IGNITE team. Who are we, what are we going to do and want do we want? This has occupied us for the past eighteen months.”

Social cohesion

“One thing we've established is that we want to explore how we can use light to influence people's sense of belonging in the city, in public spaces. How can we offer people a sense of belonging, a sense of social cohesion in public spaces? From this starting point we devised a number of concepts and in the run-up to GLOW we have increased our numbers to sixteen. We are one of the most rapidly growing student teams we currently have at innovation Space. Slowly but surely a new installation has taken shape. One that grew out of my Physics bachelor's final project. We are developing this further for this year's GLOW,” says De Jong.

Ballroom - dancing with light beams

With its Ballroom installation, IGNITE is going ‘back to the time before corona’, explains De Jong. “We are creating a large ballroom where we can all come together again and enjoy life. Instead of dancing with another person, in the ballroom you have the chance to dance with light. Twelve light beams point downwards from the ceiling. As soon as you walk into the room, they move towards you. They will start to move seductively around you, and if you move, they will respond to you. Then together you can dance to the music of student music association Quadrivium. To further blur the line between reality and a magical experience, you will be joined by dancers from student dance association Footloose. All in all, Ballroom blends a performance artwork with a technological marvel and a traditional GLOW installation.”

Growth - the growth of a student

A space on campus will be reserved for the return of Hypar's light-emitting blocks, albeit adapted to a new installation. De Vries: “In this installation we are using the existing blocks in a new way. We are placing them in a green space and showing ‘the growth of a student’, as a student might experience this during their time at university. When you stand in the right place, everything comes together in a single light object.”

Sietse de Vries from Hypar Collective. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

As well as the installations Ballroom and Growth, there are more student installations to marvel at on the campus. “This is a first for GLOW, that so many student groups have something to show,” explains De Vries. “And it is something the GLOW organizers wanted: to use fewer companies, and to give more students the chance to show something. We are proud of this. This is one of the great things coming out of challenge-based learning. We now have a community of 256 people who are interested in ‘doing something with light’.”


This is a first for GLOW, that so many student groups have something to show

Sietse de Vries, member of Hypar Collective

Growing into a platform

In order to facilitate those students and employees with a strong interest in light, IGNITE is keen to grow and to play a bigger role in the near future. De Jong: “We want to become more of a platform for students and employees who want to do something with light at the university. We want to fill the gap that once existed, as Sietse described it, with projects. This year we started to do that: as well as GLOW, we have done a project for the municipality - I can't say any more about that yet - and a number of other projects. And, within the USE learning trajectory, we want to strengthen, supervise and play a new role in the courses that involve light. We are looking for answers to the question: how can we create a basis for students who are interested in light?”

De Vries endorses De Jong's words. “At TU/e there's an ecosystem within which IGNITE can play a connecting role. The team still has plenty of growth potential.”

IGNITE's team manager Tim de Jong. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

The fascination for light

For these two students, were does this fascination with light come from? De Jong: “As a fledgling designer I am keen to find out what motivates me to create things. In my quest, I have discovered that I really enjoy making people marvel. Light is a great medium for doing this. It is intangible, literally: you cannot grasp hold of it. But it is visible and you can create illusions with it. That's a really nice aspect of light, I think. What's more, light is powerful. It has an impact on people. You can create an inviting space and decorate and furnish it really well, but ultimately the ambiance is created with light, and light's influence on our perception is strong.

Working in IGNITE has only strengthened my wishes and ideas about light. Whether I'll carry on exploring this for the rest of my life, I don't know, but at the moment I am utterly fascinated. Time and time again, I can go outside and be drawn to watch how light reflects off water or how it strikes the underside of a bridge, and be utterly enthralled.”

I can be utterly enthralled by light, time and time again

Tim de Jong, team manager of student team IGNITE

Sietse de Vries (left) and Tim de Jong. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

De Vries: “Yes, it's the same for me too. It is wonderful to see what light does. You need light to live. The whole psychological aspect of light is very interesting: what does it do to people? Personally, I'm really interested in this research side. I am very interested in the question: how can we use light to make buildings more healthy for people? How would you use it? How does it work? What makes you feel comfortable?”

An Efteling of light

A few more days of hard work and GLOW can start, as it will for De Jong and De Vries and team IGNITE. They are already proud. And they are massively keen to show the visiting public all the wonders of GLOW on the campus. De Jong: “For people who love light, the city will be ‘an Efteling of light’ for a week. It will be like walking from one attraction to the next, except in this case you'll be drawn to installations of light. I can't wait.”

The GLOW@TU/e Podcast

You can learn more about the light installations on our campus for GLOW and the stories behind the installations in our new podcast series ‘GLOW@TU/e’. The podcast is hosted by Gijs Neerhof and Lotte Sap from the Wayfinding and Storytelling team. The series consists of nine episodes and features interviews with the designers who’ve spent so much time creating the impressive installations. Check out the podcast series here.     

GLOW 2021

GLOW is free to visit from Saturday November 6 through Saturday November 13, every day from 18.30 to 23.00 hrs. Taking as its theme ‘Moved by Light’, GLOW is this year being held at four locations in Eindhoven:
City center
Strijp S/ Strijp T
Former site of Campina
TU/e campus

En route to, between and in these areas no route is signposted; you will be ‘moved by light’ and challenged to embark on your own voyage of discovery. Let yourself be amazed by the many works of light art, and enjoy!

GLOW on the TU/e campus
The artworks and activities on the TU/e campus have been created by and provided by students from ten different study associations and student teams. Every day one or more associations will show how their studies converge with light. Exhibitions and experiments, interactive games, lectures and performances will punctuate GLOW week. At the central bar at the GEM tower (on the KOE field in front of the Auditorium) all visitors are welcome to enjoy a drink and to have a chat with the students, and to experience for themselves the authentic feeling of TU/e and of being a TU/e student.


From our strategy: regional cooperation and challenge-based learning

Connection with the city of Eindhoven and cooperation with the Brainport region are very important to us. We wish to be visible in the city from which we came sixty-five years ago. And so we enjoy opening our campus to residents of Eindhoven and its environs. Accordingly, we take part each year in GLOW, and in lustrum years we pull out all the stops at this event, as we are doing this year.

The projects participating in GLOW tend to emerge from innovation Space, where challenge-based learning (CL) is central. In this innovative approach to learning, students cooperate in interdisciplinary teams to tackle real-life challenges. The assignments are drawn from industry, government or from student teams. Students learn to cooperate - with each other and their clients -to communicate, to be enterprising, to think at the system level, to experiment, and to apply and enrich their disciplinary knowledge in practice.

Read more about our Strategy 2030.

Brigit Span
(Corporate Storyteller)

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