:: interactivity as contemplative ritual



Aura plays with the tensions between a computer's complexity and a candle's simplicity, between the materiality of the machine and the ephemerality of fire and light, between developing rituals of silicon culture and the aging ceremonies of previous times. As a whole, the piece suggests an alter or some other place of focused movement, reverence and supplication.

Aura consists of a small platform on which rests a plinth. At the top of the plinth is a stylized match in a small candle straddling a striking block. Hanging above the plinth is a pieces of translucent paper upon which a video image of a burning candle is rear-projected. From the user's perspective, Aura's main visual presence is that of a burning candle floating in space, surrounded by a simple alter a few steps high.

Upon approaching the candle, the user can see his body movements subtly effecting the flame, as if the wind of his passing was blowing towards it. Once on top of the platform and directly in front of the candle, he can blow on it and thereby extinguish it. If he then takes up the match and strikes it on the block, the candle re-lights.

Aura was located in the lowest, farthest corner from the entrance to the Self-Storage exhibit. This distance, and its relative isolation, gave the approach to it a pilgrimage-like effect.

Jason E. Lewis(concept, interaction design, videography, programming)
Elaine Brechin (concept, interaction design, videography, installation )
Robert Strong (concept, interaction design, installation)




Director for MacOS
Custom-made breath-detector
Video projector
Wood, aluminum and copper


Self-Storage, Wimbley, London, April - May, 1995.






close-up of steps & alter


medium shot of steps & alter


long shot of steps & alter


close-up of candle rear-projected on screen


candle, match and stricking block


close-up of match and striking block


schematic of candle projection, match and stricking block