LightTAG is an arts and science collaboration between the University for the Creative Arts, University of Surrey and SEPnet (South East Physics Network) and funded by Mediabox. The project has enabled 62 young people from across the South East to build confidence and achievement through a unique science and media art collaboration. LightTAG provided the opportunity for disadvantaged young people to express themselves through light, using creative photography to make light drawings, their own personal tags and light animations. The project culminated in a large celebratory event for all the participants, their family and friends, at the BFI Southbank February 2011. The exhibition is now touring galleries across the South East England.

LightTAGs exciting fusion of media art infused with science, encouraged personal stories and demonstrated how art and science work together through light. Science and art have much in common – both are trying to make sense of the world around us.

Science has the power to illuminate and spark interest in the most varied range of subjects and is integral to every aspect of our lives. LightTAG has aimed to give a positive experience of science and learning to young people. Light is something we experience every day and perhaps, take for granted. Light is a form of energy and it is this that allows us to record images inside a camera. Cameras, like other technologies, have become a common feature of our everyday lives and we become blasé – sometimes missing the extraordinary scientific work that underpins these gadgets. With an understanding of the science behind technology, more possibilities present themselves, more questions are raised, and the more intriguing the world becomes.

LightTAG was led by visual artist, Tine Bech, from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), and scientist Dr Kathryn Harkup, of the University of Surrey who worked with young people from: Connexions Kent and Medway in Canterbury; Pathways in Brentford, London; The Eastpoint Centre in Southampton; Frimley Green Youth Centre – Surrey Youth Development Services; Nacro Services; Combi Centre at Kings College, and year 9 pupils also from Kings College, Guildford. The young people participated in a three to four day workshop working with a UCA media artist; a UCA film graduate student; a scientist from the University of Surrey and a physics student from SEPnet.

The young people worked together as a team, gaining skills in digital photography, learning the art of light drawings and gaining an understanding of the science behind light and photography. One of the project goals was to show youth culture in a positive light and increase the visibility of young peoples’ voices – and challenge society’s perception of it through the science and art of light.

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