Christmas lights are everywhere! They’re on trees, they’re winding around wreathes, they’re in restaurants, and some are even hooked up to an electric eel-powered sequencer! But what about those of us who don’t have access to an electric eel? Are we just out of luck for festive holiday decorations this year? No way — a beautiful floating light display in London can provide us with all the inspiration we need.
Created by art firm Aether and Hemera, artist Gloria Ronchi, and project manager Claudio Benghi, Voyage is a vibrant miniature light show currently floating on the waters of London’s Canary Wharf. It will remain on display throughout the holidays and will be taken down on Feb. 15th. The purpose of the display is “to research the aesthetic challenges of light and its power to trigger emotions and response, creating a sense of identity or setting a mood.” I’m not sure how much progress they made researching identity, but the display does do an amazing job of setting the mood.
Each individual boat resembles an origami boat, but this is a slight optical illusion. The boats were made out of a sturdier material in order to survive two months at sea. The boats contain LED lights that span the full spectrum of the rainbow. And here’s the best part: anybody in the area who has a cellphone can access a special digital control panel to change the color the of lights! It’s hardly surprising — companies and organizations like the Smithsonian are all going mobile — it was only a matter of time before art pieces and aquariums started to tap into the mobile market, too. I think that’s where the name “Voyage” comes in. These tiny boats are anchored so they’re not going anywhere — they’re not going through a literal journey, but a figurative one as they sail from color to color.
It would be fairly easy to incorporate a similar light display into your home aquascape. Backyard ponds are ideal for glowing boats because they can be added to the pond without interrupting the ecosystem. Aquariums, on the other hand, are a bit tricky. You could place floating boats on your aquarium, and you can even install underwater LED displays. The only problem with a technique like this is that you have to worry about heat. LEDs don’t generate nearly as much heat as conventional light bulbs, but if you put enough of them in one spot you could create a dangerous change in temperature.
We know that aquascapers can create underwater trees. Is it possible to decorate those trees with LED lights? Well, theoretically it would be possible. You definitely wouldn’t want to string dozens of lights in your aquarium because of the heat issue, but you might be able to get away with a handful of LEDs placed strategically throughout your aquascape to avoid concentrating too much heat in one spot. It largely depends on the type of plants and fish you keep. Some organisms prefer warm weather, so they would be more likely to tolerate higher water temperatures.
Overall, don’t be afraid of incorporating lights into your aquascape, but it’s important that you understand the potential risks associated with overdoing the display and creating excess heat. The larger the body of water and the more spread out the lights, the less likely it is that you’ll have heat problems. Concentrate a bunch of lights into a small area and you might land your fish in hot water.
If you ever do decide to incorporate lights within an aquascape, just be sure to do your research and monitor your aquascape’s temperature carefully. Depending on what species you have, the extra heat might help keep your fish happy during those chilly December nights. Humans like to roast chestnuts by an open fire. Perhaps the fishy equivalent of that is warming your fins next to an LED.