Solar Shimmer

A kinetic, light-emitting screen powered by the sun

Designed by Eleonora Nicoletti and Anthony Castronovo, Solar Shimmer was first exhibited at the Fire Station Artist in Residence in Doha during November 2017, as part of the first-ever Solar Art Festival in the MENA Region, which was presented by Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) in collaboration with Qatar Museums. Inspired by motifs recurring in Bedouin textiles, Solar Shimmer was a temporary kinetic screen that displayed a vibrant, geometric pattern evoking references to the local culture, and was created using solar energy, LED lights and discarded plastics with the aim to reduce waste.

The physical 'pixels' forming the geometric pattern consisted of solar-powered LED lamps adorned with colourful lampshades made from reused plastic bottles. The solar lanterns were juxtaposed with repurposed CDs that shimmered whilst swinging in the wind. These were attached on modular structures commonly used as temporary fences around Doha as part of construction sites. While dynamically reflecting sunlight during the day, the art installation glowed at night in a completely self-sufficient way, seemingly changing depending on the distance it was viewed from and on the wind speed.

The audience was actively engaged in the creation of the artwork. Visitors including students from local schools personalised the physical 'pixels' during educational workshops on solar energy and its relation to architecture and art. They contributed to the completion of the media installation by decorating the repurposed plastic bottles and by writing messages on the back of the CDs. People could interact with the media screen by instantly switching on or off each solar-powered 'pixel' as they approached and touched the photovoltaic cells.

After its success in Doha, Solar Shimmer was featured at MAB18 (Media Architecture Biennale). It was also exhibited at the 2019 International Kinetic Art Exhibit and Symposium in Florida to display different visual content. Solar Shimmer can be adapted to communicate different messages depending on the location and can be installed anywhere in the world to animate public spaces while inspiring sustainable behaviour.