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Flynn Talbot

Issue 61 Jun / Jul 2011

A Perth-born, Berlin-based lighting designer whose interactive installations are engaging audiences around the world

It was the search for a more direct emotional punch that first led Flynn Talbot to work with light. Having completed his studies in industrial design, he was touring Europe, exhibiting a range of furniture pieces he had developed. The experience left him disappointed. “I realised the work I was creating didn’t evoke enough of an emotional response from the visitors viewing the pieces,” says Talbot. “I wanted a deeper meaning to my work. I had experience in lighting design at this time and came to the realisation that the lighting work was much more powerful in terms of drawing the spectator in. I wanted my work to connect with people in an emotional way, creating a unique and intimate experience where the viewer felt changed or transported.”

The most recent results of this exploration of light were on show at White/Gold, Talbot’s first solo exhibition, which took place earlier this year in his adopted hometown of Berlin. The event marked the launch of X&Y – an interactive light source that is both art piece and functional luminaire. Developed as a limited edition, X&Y is a hand blown opal white glass sphere sitting in a polished gold base. With no remotes or switches, the piece is operated through physical interaction. Rotating the globe along both its X and Y axes produces gradual variations in colour and brightness, thanks to the patent pending LED lighting and control technology contained within the base section. With no instructions, operation is purely intuitive, inviting users to experiment and explore; allowing them to mould light with their own hands in a process that is both playful and practical.

In contrast to this very personal experience, Talbot’s previous works have been very public indeed. First developed for 2009’s low energy lighting festival, Smart Light Sydney, Horizon takes the moments after sunset when the sky becomes ablaze with colour and remakes it as a constantly changing canvas of light. It has since been shown at festivals across the world, changing each time to enable different forms of audience interaction. In London’s Tent Digital exhibition, a wireless touch-screen allowed spectators to influence the shift in visuals; in Perth, the piece was redeveloped as a live video feed for the new Northbridge Piazza screen (created to display the work of visual artists) – this time with the public logging in via smart-phones to influence the colour flow.

Horizon featured as part of Frankfurt’s 2010 Luminale festival, but it wasn’t Talbot’s only contribution. He was selected out of 175 entrants as winner of an international design competition to create an installation for St Peter’s Church. His concept, Portal, once again using public interaction to influence the creation of illuminated clouds that billowed from the Church’s roof. As well as forging some great new relationships on the project, Talbot received a cash prize that allowed him to properly establish his own design company, Flynn Talbot Studio, with a new a workshop in Berlin. It was, he says, a dream come true.

The move to Berlin was something of a leap of faith; a native of Perth, Australia, and long time denizen of London, he had never actually been to the German capital before relocating. It has, however, proved to be the perfect balance of creativity and relaxed lifestyle. “For me, it’s in between busy London and chilled Perth,” he explains. “I can bike everywhere, go to open-air parties, meet like-minded people, and dream up new works.”

Flynn Talbot’s dreams are a rich seam waiting to be mined. “I have so many ideas that need development,” he says. “I am delving deeper into colour exploration and the associated psychological effects on viewers. I am focused on developing new methods of human interaction for use in various projects and I am creating works that explore completely new avenues for me. A lot going on and many, many more exciting projects coming soon.”

X&Y will be exhibited in Sydney next month and in Paris in September. Read Flynn’s blog at


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