Origins of Lumigraphy

Over the past decade, the technological advances on low-energy, low-current L.E.D’s with a shelf-life of dozens of years, some even capable of changing color, have paved the way towards all sorts of applications in many fields. All that was needed was a bit of imagination for them to become means of artistic expression.

Creators who made it a point to work with spots of light can be sporadically found throughout the world and time. However, it is Bastien Carré who inaugurates the term “lumigrapher” to qualify his work. In 2007 this creator, fascinated with light, diverted the use of L.E.D’s in household appliance signals, creating a sort of 3D electrical circuit in which the electrical conductors are also utilized to structure the room. The ensuing interest pushes him to develop pendant lighting, lucent pictures, luminous sculptures and luminous mobiles. The sheer number of observers, curious to see such distinct fields of creation finding a certain coherence through the same form of art, incite the creator to seek a term that could define his trade and his work: thus appeared the terms “lumigrapher” and “lumigraphy”.

"Mistral" (2010) and "Zéphir" (2010) by the French artist Bastien CarréThe extreme lightness that characterizes Bastien Carré’s creations is due to his use of very thin steel wire on which he hand welds LED’s that are sometimes less than 2 mm in diameter. The technique he has developed enables him to design structures that supply LED’s, all the while creating volume.


"Lumigraphy" comes from the French words "lumière" (light) and "graphe" (which can be defined as “figure composed of points connected by arcs”).

The term “lumigraphy” may apply to any type of creation using spots of light as a medium - luminous sources such as fireflies or L.E.D’s - connected to each other by electricity conductors. These creations may be sculptures, paintings, hanging lights or mobiles and may be artisanal or industrial. The designer or conceiver of lumigraphs may be termed “lumigrapher”.
Unlike luminaries, lumigraphs aren’t meant to illuminate in the functional sense: their purpose is, above all, artistic or decorative. The intention is to create a glowing ambience, sort of like candlelight.

In the strict sense of the term, lumigraphs are only the creations made of spots of light connected to each other by electrical conductors. Lumigraphy may however also designate other creations using spots of light, even when the applied technology or purpose is different. For example, illuminated sculptures made of optical fiber or luminaries providing functional lighting may be considered lumigraphs if the resulting impression is similar.

Different Forms of Lumigraphy

Although the term “lumigraphy” is quite new, certain luminous creations have been famous for decades and match its definition: Christmas lights are made of luminous points that connect to each other, thus creating a luminescent atmosphere. They may be considered as the oldest and most basic form of lumigraphy.

More recently, the public’s growing interest in ambient light has spurred the appearance on the market of much more delicate creations. Certain L.E.D.-based systems are now integrated in completely transparent glass panels. Others enable the creation of raised starry skies in a room.

"LED table" (2003) and "One thousand and one lights" (2006) by the German designer Ingo Maurer.

Following a more artistic approach, lumigraphs may also be the creations of craftsmen or contemporary artists and become works of art unto themselves.
Artists’ creations - whether they be unique pieces or small, numbered series - effectively spark collectors’ interest.

Lumigraphs ...and lumigraphies

After creating the term “lumigraphy” and by giving it a technical definition, Bastien Carré decided to take the idea a step further by opening it to creations other than his own. He started looking for creators of “lumigraphies” throughout the world and slowly found a few artists and artisans, designers or innovators. All of them do not create exclusively with luminous points, but they do all create or have created pieces that fit the definition of lumigraphy.

"Manta" (2009) and "Basket" (2009) by the American designer Jason Krugman

Jason Krugman’s Organic Electric project is based around electricity and materials and inspired by natural forms. The initial exploration and concept arose from the general rule of only using through-hole LEDs and solder as mediums. Using a specialized jig, hundreds and then thousands of LEDs are soldered together to form an illuminated wire mesh. By carefully arranging the electrical layout, the mesh conducts electricity to allow for the LEDs to be powered on. It is then manipulated and contorted into 3-dimensional forms. Ultimately, Jason Krugman’s goal is to utilize the beauty and function of this electronic medium so that it parallels nature in its efficient design.

"Attrape-rêves" (2011) and "Spiral-dream" (2011) by the French artist Alain Le Boucher

The light in Alain Le Boucher’s “Luchrones” sculptures changes depending on its programming, which Alain arranges like music. Through a transparent construction of fine metallic string, the movement and rhythm of light constantly transform the volume and give life to the sculpture. Inspired by the distant twinkling of stars, Alain Le Boucher uses light as a privileged mode of expression and considers it as the carrier of a message - as an enigma that is meant to be deciphered. By composing veritable choreographies of light, he creates a volume of space and time, thus giving the sculpture an opening into the fourth dimension.

"Dédale" (2010) and "Feu Follet" (2008) by the French designers of Ombre Portée.

For Eric and Sylvia of Ombre Portée Studio, the importance lays in conveying luminous sensations and, by a play of light, creating poetic objects characterized by their lightness, the fluidity of their form and their transparency. The materials they use dress, filter and diffuse light and even set it like a piece of fine jewelry in order to create a soft and intimate atmosphere. Their “Feu Follet” piece received the VIA label in 2011.

"Brindilles" (2005), leds and optical fiber, by the French designer François Azambourg, edited by Ligne Roset.

Designer François Azembourg’s suspension “Brindilles” is edited by Ligne Roset and received the VIA label in 2006. This piece combines optical fibers that cross over about a hundred LED’s and light them up, forming a harmonious and graceful whirlwind of light. Its creator centers his work around techniques based on weightlessness and on the narrative process of each piece.

"Les parapluies" (2010) by the French artist Francis Guerrier . © Emmanuelle Bousquet

Francis Guerrier, a sculptor, a scenographer, a creator of monumental pieces and most certainly a poet, did not wait for LED’s to use points of light: long before their arrival on the market, he was already playing with incandescent micro bulbs to achieve pieces on greatly poetic themes, where the combination of light with metallic materials, such as fishnets, created a hypnotic effect to the eye.

"Skyphos 1" (2011) by the Czech glassworker Kateřina Smolíková.

Kateřina Smolíková masters numerous techniques to work glass and was inspired by creatures living at the bottom of the ocean to create her suspension “Sykhos 1”, composed of LED’s running through curving glass tubes. Through the reflection of the points of light on the glass, it evokes bioluminescent organisms that levitate in their aquatic environment. Kateřina received the Outstanding Student Design Award for this piece.

"Collection of light" (2011) by the Swedish designers of Humans Since 1982.

The “Collection of Light” concept by Per et Bastian du studio Humans Since 1982 presents different types of LED’s in a wall panel made of wood and glass. Each LED is tagged with a technical description (name, size, color temperature...), like an insect collection. They are arranged in a precise order to create a harmonious luminous effect.

Lumigraphs may take a variety of applications, the profuseness of which already are remarkable. A veritable blossoming of the number of forms in the lumigraphy family is nevertheless to be expected because of the endless possibilities offered by current luminous sources.