Light Drift

Light Drift by J. Meejin Yoon. Photo by Joel Avery, CREATiVENESS.

About the Project 

Light Drift, a collaboration between Mural Arts and artist J. Meejin Yoon, placed a temporary interactive lighting installation along Schuylkill Banks between Market and Chestnut Streets from October 15-17, 2010. The project created a field of lighting elements that drew viewers into a playful engagement with the artwork, the river, and each other.

The lighting elements are shaped like orbs or buoys and are equipped with electronics that allow them to respond to a viewer and to communicate with each other. The orbs on land use sensors to detect the presence of a person and relay a radio signal to the corresponding orbs in the water, allowing visitors to transform the lighting behavior and color of the orbs in the river.

As viewers engage and occupy the orbs along the park, the grid of lights in the water becomes an index of the activities on land. Multiple viewers can create intersections of linear patterns, encouraging viewers to “play” with each other. These orbs bring the community together by providing gathering spaces for watching the river turn into a flickering constellation, creating new connections on the river’s edge.

Photo courtesy of J. Meejin Yoon, MY STUDIO

Light Drift is a project by J. Meejin Yoon of MY Studio, an interdisciplinary art and architecture studio located in Boston, Massachusetts. Meejin Yoon is an installation artist, designer, architect and associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other projects by Meejin Yoon include White Noise White Light, commissioned for the Athens 2004 Olympics, and Low Rez Hi Fi, a permanent interactive installation in Washington DC. Meejin Yoon has received numerous awards including the Rome Prize, the RISD Athena Award, and the United States Artist Award.

MY Studio Project team: J. Meejin Yoon, Eric Höweler, Ryan Murphy, Parker Lee, Jennifer Chuong, Lauren McClellan, Man Yan Lam, Yushiro Okamoto, Kris Swick, Dan Sullivan, Jeremy Jih

MY Studio Electronics Engineer: Mark Feldmeier


  • Photo courtesy of J. Meejin Yoon, MY STUDIO

  • Photo courtesy of J. Meejin Yoon, MY STUDIO

  • Photo by Michael Koo

Full Description of the Project


Funding for Light Drift was provided by the Take Me to the River grant program, administered by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission with funding from the William Penn Foundation. Presented in partnership with DesignPhiladelphia, Fairmount Park, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Water Department, WXPN, and Viking Mill. Additional support provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.