Light Through Culture is a light installation that celebrates the differences   in cultural practices across societies.

Light Through Culture is an international, cross-cultural and cross disciplinary Erasmus IP project that aims to explore how new lighting technologies could possibly help to address societal challenges. As a result of an intensive two-week workshop, three interactive light installations that reveal invisible cultural codes in communication and living together were created.

Team: Hande Isik, Kiarash Irandoust, Laura Duncker, Lia Bardoel, Linne Voets, Nur Yildirim, Tessa Steenkamp

Role: Ideation, Concept Generation, Prototyping     Place: METU ID     Year: 2012


Created together with designers from Iran, Belgium, Holland and Turkey, the installation ‘Straightforward’ / ‘Recht door zee’ / ‘Lafı Dolandırmadan’, addresses the impact of cultural differences in communication. Where Dutch and Belgians tend to deliver straight forward, the Turkish empathy more with the receiver of their message: to soften its impact, certain tactics are used. Sometimes, this causes the message to be cut into pieces, and spread over a long time slot, containing multiple conversations and events.

The project took off with a week of intensive research and experimentation. Through acting out various situations of communication in each culture, similarities and differences were discovered. Extreme cases and troubled messages were especially examined (death of family a member, marrying without telling your parents etc.) to discuss cultural practices and tendencies.

The concept focuses on how people convey an important message to a family member or friend. Are they straightforward or do they choose a longer path to tell their story? The installation allow people to experience the consequences of the path they take by making the impact visible.


The installation invites the visitor to experience different communication approaches by playing with so-called ‘signal words’ to form the path of their important message. Whether the luminous water flow would follow a straight line, causing a big splash at the bottom, or a grafted pathway ending in a continuous flow of gentle drops, is up to the visitor. 

 The beauty and variety of conveying paths are visualized through the different patterns created by changing the flow, direct or indirect, which reflects the poetics of language. The flow of water is both metaphor and medium through which messages are conveyed.


Check the extended documentary below to learn more about the project.

‘Light Trough Culture: Ankara’ installations were exhibited at METU Art Festival in Ankara, and at both Dutch Technology Week and Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven.


** The project was jointly organized by TU/e, St Lukas Brussels and METU and happened in the context of OPENLIGHT, creative lab of the Intelligent Lighting Institute at TU/e. The project is supported by the European Commission for Education and Training as an Erasmus IP project.