Nottingham artist Andrew Pepper is proving you can sell anything after spending the past three and a half years quietly selling light on the internet to people all over the world.
Almost 400 people have so far contributed to his One Million Points of Light project, which is a unique global experiment designed to create an unusual piece of art.
People buying blocks of pixels on the website www.onemillionpointsoflight.com choose the colour and position of their specks of light. At the end of the four-year project, Andrew plans to turn the pattern they create into a three-dimensional hologram.
Now, as the venture heads towards the end of the project, Andrew has revealed that more than a million people from 115 different countries have visited the website to see the emerging piece of art.
They’ve logged on from as far afield as Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Christmas Island and Uruguay.
“When I launched the One Million Points of Light website in February 2006 I didn’t know how it would develop. It really was a visual experiment,” said Andrew, a hologram expert and associate lecturer at Nottingham Trent University.
“I switched on the first block of light, and I had no idea whether I would just be the only one on there or how many would join me. It’s really interesting that people have embraced it and taken part in this online collaboration.”
There are one million tiny specks of light on the website, and so far more than 155,000 have been lit. In return for their small investment, participants in the One Million Points of Light project get a link from their block of light to a website of their choice.
Unlike the commercial schemes selling pixels on a website for advertising that were pioneered by former Nottingham University student Alex Tew, the primary aim of The One Million Points of Light project is to create a piece of art. Hence a block of light only costs £2.50.
“It’s fascinating seeing who is lighting up blocks of light and where they’re from in the world. Each block is a tunnel to another website,” explains Andrew, who lives in West Bridgford.
Among those who have contributed to the One Million Points of Light project are Australian artist Anthony White, who created The Money Series of paintings, and The Butler Museum of American Art. Others include artists, photographers, writers, musicians, as well as community groups.
“There is a high proportion of art and media individuals involved, but in the same way that anyone can walk into a gallery to look at a piece of art, absolutely anyone can join in and light up their own blocks. If they don’t have their own website they can link to another site, like a charity or a favourite organisation,” said Andrew.
“People seem to like the fact that they can take part in something that’s completely uncurated. We don’t know what the outcome is going to be. Other people like the idea of it being an anonymous junction. In a way, it’s turning advertising on its head because you can’t tell by the colour and the shape of a block of light what website it leads to.”
This first stage of the project will finish in February 2010 when preparations for the production of the holographic installation will begin. The hologram created through the One Million Points of Light project will be shown in London. Venues in America are also interested in showing it.
“Ultimately this will be a piece of art that’s been created by people from around the world, as each individual taking part is choosing the colour of a block of light and where it’s positioned, which is shaping the final hologram,” said Andrew.
Andrew Pepper is an artist who works with installations, holography and light. His sculptures and holograms have been exhibited worldwide. He has also taught at the Royal College of Art and has been a visiting lecturer at many colleges, both in the UK and internationally.
To join the global art experiment, visit www.onemillionpointsoflight.com