The Art and Wonder of Light

Continuing our series on light, swissnex San Francisco invites Swiss artist Daniel Schlaepfer to present his interactive installations using light to question the mysteries of nature. Plus, a discussion of how modern technological tools are changing how we experience wonder.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


May 05, 2010 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

Continuing our series on light, swissnex San Francisco invites Swiss artist Daniel Schlaepfer to present his interactive installations using light to question the mysteries of nature. Elaine Buckholtz, a light artist and designer who teaches at Stanford University, discusses how modern technological tools like the ones in Schlaepfer’s works change a viewer’s experience of wonder.

Schlaepfer uses optical fibers, dichroic filters, regular and organic light emitting diodes (LEDs), and fluorescent dyes to sculpt light and elicit emotion. He presents his famous light installation, the Etoile d’Ai, an interactive artwork on a mountaintop in the Swiss Canton of Vaud that allows the public to control the color of a far off light source in real time by calling a phone number.

Here at swissnex, Schlaepfer adapts a piece that represents the light conditions in Cressy, Switzerland, throughout 2009. The entire year’s worth of sunlight data, collected from a rooftop, is represented in a slowly shifting display of hues that cycles through the data in a period of two weeks. In another work, a tabletop covered with white sand and blocks of dichroic glass simulates light in summer and winter as spotlights are angled at varying degrees and colored shadows are cast on the sand.

The exhibit is open to the public M-F, 9:00 am-5:00 pm, May 4th through May 21st, 2010. Please contact us if you are planning to visit the exhibit.

This event is produced by swissnex San Francisco and part of the U.S.-wide program ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future. As a leading country in science, research, and technology, Switzerland is working with its American counterparts to address key global topics such as sustainability to better understand trends and arrive at solutions.


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  presentation starts
8:00 pm  reception and networking
10:00 pm  doors close


Daniel Schlaepfer

Schlaepfer is a light designer and artist based in Lausanne, Switzerland, whose work focuses on the relationship between nature and man-made artifacts. Over the years, he has developed an artistic practice that aims to deepen the awareness for the complexity of natural phenomena and reveal its potential once transposed in the aesthetical sphere. Through his research on biological, physical, and optical principles, he generates materials and concepts with which he transforms natural settings into artificial sceneries in order to interfere with the standards of perception and interpretation. His artistic work has been shown in many group exhibitions, and he has built several architectural and landscape installations worldwide. He recently represented Switzerland at GLOW, the International Forum of Light in Art and Architecture, in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, in 2009.


Elaine Buckholtz

Elaine Buckholtz attended the California College of the Arts from 2002 to 2004 on a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship and received her MFA from Stanford University in 2006. She currently teaches at Stanford University in the Art and Art History departments as an adjunct faculty member. She has worked as a lighting and visual designer in the Bay Area for 20 years. Her own work explores the medium of light as both an ephemeral phenomenon and as an intervention to unmask hidden aspects of architectural forms and landscapes. She is interested in poetic renderings that infuse space with image and light and create a sense of wonder. In the last several years, she has focused on more contemplative works that leave room for the viewer to put their own experience at the center.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos