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What Is LED Art?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2014
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LED art is any art constructed with light-emitting diodes. This type of art falls into four primary categories: street art, advertising art, entertainment art and aesthetic art. It is widely varied due to the availability of LEDs in different sizes and colors.

The primary component of LED art, the LED, is a semiconductor diode. LEDs let current flow in only one direction. When voltage is applied to the semiconducting element, energy is released in the form of photons, or light. All light is energy at different wavelengths, so different colors of LEDs represent different energy levels. LEDs offer several advantages over other light sources, including compactness, longevity, turning on and off quickly and low energy consumption. In art, LEDs are advantageous because artists can use them in a wide variety of settings.

Street art, including street art with LEDs, is broadly defined as any art in the streets that is not graffiti, and it usually has a distinct, often political, message or purpose. LED advertising art is intended to draw attention to products or services for sale. LED entertainment art is put up just for fun or visual effects at events and is often quickly removed. Aesthetic art using LEDs is art that, like traditional sculptures, paintings or drawings, is intended to remain in use and hold appreciation over time because of its visual and beauty appeal. Sometimes LED art overlaps categories, such as an LED T-shirt that is worn "for fun" but which also promotes a company.

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People did not develop LED art until the later part of the 20th century. The reason is that early LEDs didn't appear on the electrical scene until around 1962. These early LEDs were primarily red in color because scientists and electronic workers hadn't figured out the logistics of using semiconductor diodes through the entire energy and color spectrum. This meant that the artistic options for LEDs were extremely limited and that the light produced from the LEDs wasn't significant enough to make a major impact.

As technology advanced, scientists and electronic workers learned how to create a broad variety of LEDs suitable for many different settings and purposes. Subsequently, LED artists gained an enormous color and size palette. How an artist decides to use that palette depends on his individual vision. Similar to any other art, LED artists often develop their own styles that differentiate them from other artists and which eventually stand as their identifiable signatures.

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