The Rainbow Lightbox uses an array of mylar tubes to create beautiful pixelated shadows from colored light. I was inspired by Taizo Matsumura’s “Hikari no Hako” kit, which is a small paper box filled with mylar tubes. I created my own larger version with hundreds of mylar tubes and instead of relying on colored filters, as Matsumura’s kit did, I used multicolored light and shadows to create a unique effect that brings out every color of the rainbow.
By experimenting with different light sources, from sunlight to televisions, I discovered that the mylar tubes do something surprising with colors if you sandwich them between two diffusion filters. When one end of a mylar tube is exposed to multiple colors, the tube mixes the colors together to create a new color that is projected onto the top diffusion filter. Although the colors that go into the tube array can vary smoothly, because of the sharp borders created by the edges of the tubes, the image that emerges has a beautiful pixelated appearance.
I also set about creating a colorful input to illuminate the lightbox, using red, blue, and green LEDs. When these colors are combined they create white light, but if you block them they cast colorful shadows onto the back of the lightbox. The colored shadows are re-mixed by the mylar array and emerge on the other side in every possible hue (Figure A).
The result is the Rainbow Lightbox: a device that lets you mix colored light like paint and play with color by casting shadows.