Richard Clarkson's Cloud lamp: thunder, lightning, Arduino

Allan Chochinov of the new MFA Products of Design, alerted me to the work of one of his students, Richard Clarkson. It's called The Cloud.

The project is an Arduino-controlled “cloud” that mimics thunder and lighting, and doubles as a dynamic audio visualizer. I think the work is both poetic and remarkable, and can be interpreted along a broad spectrum of “products of design.” Richard sees the piece as an exploration of different design platforms—from a DIY kit (he shares the Arduino code on the link) to a production lamp to a speculative object to a piece of rarefied design art. He looked at several analogous price points -- from free to exclusive -- all the while offering up the plans for others to grow the project with. I’m impressed that Richard was able to hit all these notes with a single piece of work.

The Cloud


  1. To be honest, it’s not very good. Needs to be brighter, and the lightening should not follow the volume of the thunder. I was expecting it to flash like sparking electricity, followed by the thunder. But this just limped along like a wet rag wrapped around an LED. Sorry.
    Nice and fluffy though!

    1. Could be a little better, but it’s still a lovely item, and a project I’m very tempted to undertake (it might be what finally pushes me to pick up an arduino).

      It would also only really make sense having the thunder follow the flash if you were standing a good mile away from it :p

      Either way, jack up that brightness (as you say), maybe get a bit of ambient light involved so it’s a bit more practical, and I have my self the most atmosphere inducing reading light ever!

      (Also I’d totally run the audio to my receiver for a full, jump out of your seat effect).

  2. Artist Katie Paterson something much better five years ago – it uses live data, and reacts in realtime lighting up a whole pier.

  3. I applaud Mr. Clarkson’s work. 
    This is a most difficult type of piece to achieve and I think he did it extremely well. Clouds, like constellations, are the most difficult subject in creative lighting design.

    @ bumblebee…. there was nothing on supplied link that illustrated a “much better” work. Can you clarify?

  4. wow, this is actually great, I love the sound of rain and thunder and I think this has the potential to make me sleep a nice sleep !

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