My name is Leif Maginnis, I am an artist based in Los Angeles. I make interactive kinetic light art. My work has been featured at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, the Mechanical Art & Design Museum in the UK, and at Maker Fair in San Francisco. My light art has been covered in Creative Review and Wired Magazine.


ArtStrobe is interactive art

20" spinning polyhedron surrounded by mirrors

36" x 6" spinning cylinder surrounded by mirrors

20" x 24" spinning cylinder

60" disk

ArtStrobe in the park

My first ArtStrobe - 18" disk

Experimenting with the electronics and the fluorescent patterns

The ArtStrobe is interactive, kinetic light art. It works by spinning an object that has fluorescent-colored patterns on it. Ultraviolet strobe lights are aimed at it and rings of bright fluorescent patterns emerge, transform in color and move in and out of focus. The user can change these patterns by turning two knobs mounted near the ArtStrobe. Wherever I show the work, people are fascinated by it and are puzzled by how it works even after I explain the technology. Be sure to visit the videos section on the right side of this webpage for many other videos of other ArtStrobe work.

My discovery of the idea for the ArtStrobe was unexpected. The project I was working on at the time was not art-related. I was working with shortwave UV lights and UV LEDs. I had a UV light array that was pulsing and I had a piece of cardboard with fluorescent ink patterns painted on the surface. As I passed the cardboard under the pulsing light, I noticed these elaborate colored light patterns appear from the fluorescent ink. I thought this was amazing and quickly set out to make a spinning prototype to test out the discovery.

After making an 18 inch prototype, I set out to make a much larger one. I made a large piece covering a 60 inch aluminum disk. I arranged a series of concentric fluorescent colored circles on its face. I built a steel tower to mount it up high so groups of people could all see it. I drove up to the annual BurningMan Festival in Nevada to show the work. It was well received there and I got a lot of good feedback about the work. From there I branched out to other revolving shapes and new fluorescent patterns.

There are a lot possible applications for this technology, I have prototyped a number of different arrangements of lights, colors, and other factors. I couldn’t determine why I had never seen anything like this until I learned that UV LEDs were not developed until around 1999 and not cheap until years later.

Photography and video really don’t document this work very well. The work is a spinning object with a strobe light flashing at different frequencies. I have tried many different kinds of video cameras and none of them really capture what the eye sees.

Kinetica Art Fair – London, UK

I attended the Kinetica Art Fair in London this February. Kinetica Art Fair is produced by Kinetica Museum and is the first of its kind in the UK. It features kinetic, electronic, robotic, sound, light, time-based and multi-disciplinary new media art, science and technology. The fair lasted five days at the Ambika P3 gallery. It was a great experience talking to visitors and the other artists at the fair. I enjoyed giving a presentation about the technology I was using on the Musion Stage at the fair.

ArtStrobe at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Decompression Music & Art Festival

People interacting with the ArtStrobe at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Decompression Music & Art Festival at the Los Angeles State Historical Park. October 1st, 2011.