(project originally completed on 10/17/07)
For an assignment two months ago, coming off a streak of straight forward, design-minded projects, Milton gave us the following brief: “Bring in something of your own making which is a source of light.” We weren’t allowed any clarifying questions and were told that we shouldn’t discuss our ideas with or show prototypes to our classmates.
The exercise was a wonderful departure from the work we’d been asked to create up to that point. Having no specific methodology or outcome in my mind, it was a chance to do whatever we pleased, to think as far outside of the box as possible and risk embarrassment and failure.
My initial idea had to do with illuminated thought bubbles. I thought it might be interesting to create single color, plastic, injection-molded thought bubbles that would float above the users head. The bubbles would light up and be customizable with a dry erase marker. I imagined employing one when I was working at the studio and didn’t want to be disturbed: fuck off, I’m busy.
I ran into problems due to shape and lack of time and resources. I don’t know much about plastics and know even less about how to get an injection-molded prototype built. As an alternative, I thought it might be nice to make macabre nightlights and mobiles. Still into the idea of plastic and customization, I settled on the nightlight idea and set to work building forms out of crystal clear packing tape.
While watching a bunch of old Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes, I balled and folded and smashed and grew the tape. When I stuck a bunch of wads together and shone a light behind the result, the tape bounced and reflected the light back in on itself, creating this trippy mirrored ball effect. I continued to grow the shape organically until it began to resemble this menacing demon with a protruding lower jaw. The final step was to add gnarly fangs and dainty little horns.
I initially left the face blank thinking that, should a mass-market version be sold to a kid, they might like to customize their own version. But the more I stared at the demon head in the dark, it’s center glowing bright, I started to see shapes in the folds and creases of it’s packing tape core. Staring at the demon has the same end effect of cloud gazing or looking up at the popcorn texture on the ceiling: you begin to make your own shapes, see warts and scowls that are unique to you and you alone.
Milton enjoyed the end result, thought it was an ingenious use of materials, but wasn’t fond of the shape. “What can I say? I like devils and demons,” was my reply. My source of light sits on my desk at the studio to this day.