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Local artist harnesses interactive light play

Submitted Photo Micah Bloom was recently awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship, which he will use to create an interactive exhibit titled “Radiosity: Colorplay.”

Local artist and instructor at Minot State University, Micah Bloom, has been awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship, in the amount of $5,000, by the North Dakota Council on the Arts. Bloom’s project, “Radiosity: Colorplay” will result in a collection of 15 to 20 interactive sculptures that explore the physical properties of light.

Radiosity is the quantification of which energy leaves a surface, in this case colored light. Bloom first observed the effect when the sun hit his high visibility jacket and it reflected the neon green onto the wall. He wanted to see if he could replicate the effect so he started experimenting in his studio.

“I started to play with these little blocks where I would paint some color on them and see what kind of color effects happen because of that light bouncing around. I got pretty excited about that,” Bloom said.

In his studio he figured out which situations and contexts he could optimize to make the reflected colors “sing” and found fluorescent colors worked best. His goal is for viewers to see no colored paint pigments, only the reflections of colored light.

Bloom started to create larger pieces, some involving the use of a laser cutter.

“I learned through a lot of trial and error,” he said. “I’m not great at physics, but there’s physics involved too in understanding how light travels and to keep that pigment away from the viewer but to have a cool result – to make it an interesting object artistically that also harnesses this effect.”

Through his research, Bloom found the primary group of people interested in radiosity are video game and virtual world developers who are trying to find more convincing ways to immerse users.

Though he’s already created pieces harnessing the effect of radiosity, with the fellowship he hopes to facilitate hands-on exploration of the concept.

“I’d like to be able to share some of my experience of what I did in the studio, kind of playing with and learning some of that with the audience – with the viewer,” he said.

Bloom said the art performs differently in venues because they all have different light situations or colored walls that affect the effect, which he said has been one of the obstacles with this kind of artwork.

“The challenge for me is trying to figure out how to optimize lighting situations in any environment, if I have to add my own lighting, because when people look at these works in their optimal situation they often wonder, ‘Are there LED lights under them that show these different colors?'” Bloom said.

Bloom started his career at a public elementary school in St. Paul, Minnesota, and started instructing at MSU in 2011. He currently has an exhibition at the Taube Museum of Art in Minot titled “Bloomkin,” which includes child-friendly, interactive installations. It is a collaborative exhibition created by Bloom, his wife and six children that takes an inside look at the Bloom household. The exhibit will be on display until Wednesday, July 17.

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