SolarScapes ASCI

Guidelines | Application Requirements | Timeline | SolarScapes Intro | ASCI


Liberty Science Center with view of Manhattan Firefly Light Sculpture
by The Mark Yurkiw Group

"As soon as the sun disappears and the moon begins to rise, hundreds of flickering lights appear, dancing over the landscape to an unheard ancient rhythm. Meet the lightning bug·" said entomologist Tom Ellis of the ethereal insect. "There are over 125 different species of lightning bug, each with their own unique blinking code. The light shows evolved to aid males in courting females.
Some females mimic the codes of other lightning bugs to lure the male to his death."

The lightning bugsā ability to combine inside its body the chemical Lucifern with oxygen to generate a radiant bioluminescence has been a wonder not only to scientists but everyday people until very recently. Whereas the traditional light bulb uses 90% of its converted electrical energy to produce heat and only 10% for light, lightning bugs convert an efficient 95% of their energy to produce light. Like the sun, lightning bugs convert combined elements to create light energy. Unlike the sun, this light is cool.

Our plan is to use the most interesting facts about fireflies and adapt them to an exciting light sculpture. Everyone whoās ever spent a summer night chasing the incandescent specks of light fondly remember the wonder of these insects. This sculpture will use ecologically minded technology to create a visually stunning representation of this natural phenomenon. Our adaptation will illustrate, in both a scientifically poignant and aesthetically pleasing way, the visually dramatic chain reaction of the collection, conversion, production, and distribution of light energy.

Our piece will emanate its glowing aura through a combination of solar and grid energy. Mimicking the lightning bugās synthesis of elements, the power will be channeled into strobe lights that in turn will bounce illumination into lightweight reflective panels. The panels will be placed in key areas throughout the tower so that their pulsing glow along with the flickering flash of the attached strobes may be enjoyed by from all sides. The pattern of the flickers, emotional temperature of the light and overall positioning of the display will be meticulously controlled and specifically refer to a combination of artistic, and practical concerns. For example, when the piece is run only on solar power the light may flicker in the pattern of the male of a particular species. Conversely, when grid power is employed, the blinking pattern of the responding female can be displayed. Variations with color will also be explored.

The reflective panels will be made of a lightweight sheeting similar to vinyl. We estimate they will be about 4-5ā across and can be cut to shape. By experimenting with varying panels to represent different species we can visually demonstrate their "conversations" through the light shows.

The effect that the viewer experiences will be a series of flickers along with a glowing form whose intensity is in its center and radiates outward. Conversely, when the glow begins to fade, it will start from the outside and darken towards the center. This effect will give the "bugs" a pulsating sensation adding to the drama of the experience. The Fire Fly Light Show will be seen from all sides and far distances. Imagine the familiar New York experience of floating past the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry only to find yourself captivated by the addition of a new element to its famous backdrop. A curious yet familiar light dance choreographed by nature and upheld by science illuminates our urban skies in commemoration of a new age whose concerns for ecology and conservation have prompted its conception.

The Fire Fly Light Show panels have few parts and will be easy to maintain. They will be custom treated with a luminescent solution that when charged by either natural or artificial light is capable emitting a brilliant glow for many hours. Once treated, the panels will become permanently glow capable and require no special care beyond occasional dusting. The panels will be hung with aircraft cable.

The cables will be attached to the grid of the ceiling. Simple wiring will run along with the cable and down to a solar battery mounted to a pedestal on the floor. Along with the battery, there will be a switch box and control panel mounted to the pedestal. These components are part of the sculpture and will be treated as artwork. For added visual effect the switch box can be transparent to allow the viewer to see how the power is transferred from one energy source to another. All components are designed with a fun-techie look.

A pulley system will be used to lower and raise the panels. The system is made of light weight cables and hardware. The system will be easy to operate. All parts are "off-the-shelf" and therefore easy to replace if needed.

The strobe lights will use 45 watts of power and are capable of over a million flashes before they will need to be changed.


Mark Yurkiw, The Mark Yurkiw Group

Educated in physics and fine arts, Mark Yurkiw has been creating three dimensional art, and exhibitions for the medical, architectural, industrial, theatrical, and public service communities internationally for over twenty years.

The Mark Yurkiw Group is a proven resource for art and ingenuity within any industry. Some typical projects have included collaborating with inventors to solve the design and technical aspects of a confidential new product, creating a detailed interactive model for city planning (the proposed new Penn Station) and generating special effects for television commercials.

Mark has won numerous awards for his work such as The Art Directors Club Honor, The Society of Medical Illustrators Award, and The International 3-Dimensional Illustrators Show. Markās work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art and is currently represented in private and corporate collections.

The group looks forward to its future years as an opportunity to build on these achievements while accomplishing new goals as a member of the art and science communities.

Visit their new website at

Guidelines | Application Requirements | Timeline | SolarScapes Intro | ASCI

Site design by Sally Minker Graphic Design