miska knapek

The sun/shade work is a representation of the sunlight in Helsinki over a year, measured by a solar radiation sensor and re-represented though code and a lasercutter into Finnish wood. The work investigates our sense of nature, and the meaning and interplay between data, form and physicality.

Many thanks to the Aalto University Media Factory for sponsoring the project.
Also thanks to the Aalto University / ARTS / Department of Design & Paja for helping physically make the work.

More images can be found here.

sun/shade the work on a black background, making the holes more visible

On the work's vertical axis, columns of dots recount the sun's activity from the beginning of the day ( i.e 00:00 ) at top, to the day's end (ie. 23:59 ) at the bottom, in 10 minute steps. The 182 columns, from left to right, show every other day in the year, from the beginning of 2007 to the end. The size of the circles indicates the quantity of sunlight. A 2007 Helsinki's light is retold. Intensely light in summer - in the middle - with occasional rain and clouds darkening the day, and intensely dark in winter - surrounding the light summer period.

sun/shade the sun/shade work mounted on a window, in shadow

Besides recounting the year in sun and shade, the work investigates the relationship between what's being represented and the form of the representation. The representational elements, circles, allude to the sun's form, and the representation of light quantity is by the quantity of light the differently sized circles let through.

To complete the metaphorical circle, as it were, wood was chosen as light affects how wood grows. And then the natural means of cutting this year-in-light representation, was with the light of a laser-cutter.


The meaning of form also partly lies at the centre of this project. As the form is a product of the data - plus the designer's representational choices - the object is a symbol of sunlight, Helsinki where it was measured, and 2007 when it was measured. The object makes one think of the sun, remember Helsinki in the different days of 2007.


This work is an attempt to find forms that make nature's forms and being more accessible, and, to put it in people's everyday lives. Having a picture showing nature's movements, hopefully, puts it on a more equal footing with other living beings we care for.

sun/shade ...and it makes fun shadows too


Technical details: Work size: 90 x 60 x 0.1 cm The author got Helsinki sunlight measurements from the local meteorological agency, wrote software to turn it into a two-dimensional vector representation, which was given to the local lasercutter to cut, out of Finnish 1mm wood.

sun/shade Please note: this image features a smaller prototype version of the sun/shade

sun/shade Please note: this image features a smaller prototype version of the sun/shade

Timelapse of the larger piece, for about 10 hours.

cutting the work - with light naturally..

sun/shade detail: what it looks like after a laser passed by... note: the largest hole is 4.5mm ....

of course, sometimes the laser would choose some rather "interesting" routes through the work.... it's good we don't all believe in "machine efficiency".