Light Play + A Cut Paper Installation


Our recent activity development around Light Play led to a synergistic moment as I began to wonder whether cut paper installations I’ve created might allow for some interesting explorations, especially around creating collaborative light environments. So for two days this week, we filled the Tinkering Studio’s workshop space with cut paper crowds and invited people to collaborate in activating the installation using Light Play.

Light Play with Amy Oates

Here are some of the things we noticed or learned during the two days:

Multiple depths of effects
The cut paper served both as a screen (catching light effects) and as a silhouette (casting light effects onto surrounding walls). Depths of field led to depths of exploration.


Accommodations for early learners
Low tables + lazy susans (no motors) allowed us to welcome in people younger than the typical minimum age for Light Play (8 years)... some as young as 2-3 years! It was quite wonderful to watch them investigate the lights, materials, and the effects they could make.

Light Play with Amy Oates's installation
Light Play with Amy Oates's installation

Different stations for different explorations
We found that the activity stations that projected onto walls worked best with abstract colored/reflective/refractive materials while stations projecting more onto paper cutouts worked best with materials that emphasized grids and patterns.


As always, the ability to quickly pivot and make rapid changes was paramount to creating an effective environment. For instance, we hung the paper pieces from rods in ways that we could easily move/lower/etc them as we learned better how to adapt the installation for people to use/interact/create with it. (What we learned was that lower worked better as the lights could cast shadows mainly onto the walls at eye level rather than just the ceiling.)

Light Play with Amy Oates's installation

Curated materials = no congestion
We curated bins of materials at each station, which decreased the congestion caused when people have to move around the space to gather materials. This also allowed us to better curate materials we found worked well at different stations.


The cut paper installation served as a starting, unifying environmental feature, and the continuous screen along the back wall allowed for collaboration on one large-scale Light Play piece rather than multiple, individual pieces.


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