Omar Shehata

Digitally recreating light art

From Omar's notebook.

Last year I learned about this light art project on Zermatt mountain in Switzerland when they were illuminating it with country flags & messages of hope during the worst times of Covid. See gallery of pictures & more about this project.

© Light Art by Gerry Hofstetter / Foto Gabriel Perren. From

I absolutely love this work because it no doubt looks & feels incredibly epic and all consuming if you were to stand there in person. It's also really interesting in that the topography of the land you project it on becomes part of the art. I wondered if you could pick different images, or different angles, to better incorporate the landscape, or change the feeling it evokes etc.

I really wanted to just play with this, so I made a digital recreation of this using CesiumJS. In principle I could drag & drop any image I wanted, or project it onto any mountain I wanted. Below is my digital recreation.

And here's a timelapse video cycling through a few different country flags.

It feels powerful to be able to have this digital recreation, to stand at the base of the mountain, or tower above it, or fly around it. Or see it how it looks at different times of the day.

Adapting to a different art piece

About a year after the original light show they re-did it with logos from NASA to celebrate the Mars landing. To test out how easy it was to recreate this one using the same code, I quickly put this together:

The hardest part was figuring out (1) which mountains these were and (2) where the camera was when it took that photograph. It's not quite right because that mountain closest to the projectors in the real photograph appears much taller than in my digital version, implying the camera was probably a lot closer to the ground.

It was cool to see this one shared by Thomas Zurbuchen, an administrator at NASA.

The artist - Gerry Hofstetter

While writing this up I learned a bit more about the artist, Gerry Hofstetter. This wasn't just a one off project, they're this advertising company that encourages people to create these art displays because it's fun and it's better for the environment.

Their website:

Demo & source code

This forum thread has detailed instructions on accessing the live demo as well as forking it on Glitch to change the images and location used.

Live demo link for posterity: