Andrew O'Malley's animated light boxes

 System Product Images 4522 Original Elec Win 304 Green 02  System Product Images 3627 Original Tunnel Vision Three

As a kid, I remember hitting Spencer Gifts in the mall to check out the black light posters, trippy lights, and, of course, the (tame) "adult" novelty gifts. I was reminded of those formative Spencer experience when I saw the work of Canadian artist Andrew O'Malley in the Boing Boing Bazaar. He creates "dynamic, illuminated fixtures combining captivating lighting technology, finely crafted and re-purposed enclosures, and hand-built electronic circuits, custom programmed for intriguing behavior through a playful balance between rules and randomness." I'm digging the stately and effective Tunnel Vision LED light boxes and Space Invader Electric Window.


  1. It’s hard for me to see the “tunnel vision” boxes as very original. My next door neighbor made one of these with a partial transmission mirror, a regular mirror, some nice wood, a few various sizes of coffee cans painted flat black, and a short string of Christmas tree lights. He got the idea from an “art exhibit” of a similar item at our high school.

    This was in 1969.

    Does this mean that color organs are coming back too? Now THAT would be something to celebrate.

    1. Of course the tunnel vision boxes are not original! That was the point I was making by referencing Spencer Gifts. They sold tunnel vision boxes — it’s a classic effect. I like the style in which O’Malley has revived them with new tech.

  2. That picture gave me a madeleinesque memory slap. My father was a physicist who dropped out and opened what was then called a “head shop” in the late sixties: Sights and Sounds in Middletown, Connecticut. “Head shop” in those days did not mean small glass sculptures, but rather underground newspapers and electronic toys to enhance the “head experience”. He sold black lights, strobe lights, flasher buttons (inserted into the socket before screwing in a light bulb), and, of course, color organs.

    The only way I can date this is my memory of the White Album being released, which was in 1968, the year in which I would have been ten. My father put it on the stereo and played it nonstop for days as the local hipsters hung out enraptured.

    The back of the shop was a dark, musty place lit by the glow of velvet posters of Jimi Hendrix and three-headed cobras. There were enough bulbs flashing at various frequencies to trigger any epileptic.

    He made the strobe lights by attaching small metal mixing bowls to project boxes as reflectors. (They *made* things in the sixties!) He had nibbled rectangular holes in the bottoms of the bowls, through which extended a xenon flash tube. The color organs were speaker enclosures with the cloth replaced by sheets of reticulated plastic that turned point light sources into stars. The guts were replaced by Christmas tree lights driven by sound-sensitive electronics.

    <off topic/> One of the funniest things associated with my young life as a hippie: After my ex-wife (seven years my senior) and I had been married for several years, we happened on the fact that my father had had this shop and that she had visited it. “You were one of those crew-cutted little kids?”

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