The new Illuminati: Art in lights and sounds

Art today extends considerably beyond pigments on canvas. Photo: Aurora Project modified guitars

WASHINGTON, October 24, 2013 – Art can mutate into a bewildering array of forms. When visual form isn’t enough, art can go beyond that to harness the beauty of lights and sounds. 

Today, as we noted in our previous column, not only can you use LED lights on sign-boards and in commercial establishments to gain more advertising traction. Artists all over the world know they can master the art of creating beauty from LED lights, music and other electric devices, fusing it with their works and performances.

Here are a few juicy examples.


Steve Vai’s green-illuminated guitar. (Steve Vai)

There are companies that will modify musical instruments such as electric guitars and basses by illuminating them with LED lights from within or without.

SEE RELATED: The art of LED lights

Whether the LED array is inside the body of a guitar or on the inlays on the instrument’s neck, this modification definitely lends more character to these already iconic instruments of art. 

One example of an elaborately illuminated guitar body is Steve Vai’s hand-crafted high-grade clear acrylic Ibanez pulsating with green LEDs inside. Only 200 of these guitars were produced.

Custom LED illuminated guitars. (Aurora Project website)

There’s a website called “Aurora Project,” which takes orders from customers and install LED lights on the dotted inlays of any sort of guitar, including electric guitars, bass guitars, and even acoustic instruments. They can also install LEDs along the sides of the pick guards. Here’s an example of their work.

Masks and Wes Borland

People who cosplay robots or Ironman are into costuming and masks. In order to make their costumes more legit, these artists place LED lights on masks and other parts of their costume. Musicians as well do this as a form of expressing their artistry visually.

SEE RELATED: Going Punk with Steampunk

Wes Borland has been an art-god of mine since I was 9. He plays guitar on Limp Bizkit and is the front man for Black Light Burns. He is also a painter and does work on movie soundtracks. More than that, however, he is more widely known currently for the often outrageous—in a very good and awesome way—and over-the-top outfits he wears on stage.

Wes Borland’s futuristic costume and mask. (Wes Borland)

Borland decorates his face and body with oil-based paint and wears other kinds of fur, feathers, wigs, sometimes even donning jousting armor plated with disco-ball mirrors.

And then there are the masks. Recently on the “Rock Am Ring” and “Sonic Shanghai” tour, Borland wore a mask embedded with LEDs. An even more outrageous version of this LED get up was showcased on a recent huge gaming event for LoL.


Outrageous Deadmaus mouse-mask. (Deadmaus)

Among recent entries, one of my favourite masks, boasting an insane amount of LEDs, or in this case a helmet full of them, is DeadMaus’ gigantic head gear display. Peer inside that giant mouse helmet and you’ll witness first hand the massive number of LED bulbs that are meticulously installed inside. They function like the pixels on a TV or video screen, resulting in a variety of shapes and effects like a giant mouse grin, for example.

An added bonus: the table used to stage this gear looks like it’s just burst forth from a scene in the movie “Tron.”

Daft Punk wearing helmets. (Daft Punk PR still)


Daft Punk

This French electronic music duo didn’t really start off on their careers wearing their trademark helmets. They only started donning them from 2001 onward.

Combination of lights and sounds:

Boom Boom Satellite video still.


Boom Boom Satellite’s Music video for “Broken Mirror”

This outfit is a band from Japan.

In their music video for their song “Broken Mirror,” the band performs while the lights and lasers and projected images react to the sound that they’re making.


Bjork’s Live performance for “Thunderbolt”

Still from Bjork’s Thunderbolt. (Via YouTube)

On one of Bjork’s live tours for “Biophilia,” she performed a song called “Thunderbolt,” which used a Tesla coil that creates discharges of electricity that also gives out a specific note that serves as the bass line for her song.

To the right is a still from that performance, and the YouTube video of this sequence appears below.


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Alexander Aviado

Aj Aviado is a Painter, Musician and a Registered Nurse who has learned how to write and blog through the help of his lovely girlfriend Adie and his friends from Xight Interactive.

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