Functional Energy Art

by Murray Tovi.

A controversial concept as art by it’s very nature is non-functional.

Louis Comfort Tiffany may have come closest with his priceless breathtakingly beautiful lamps but there was a necessary trade off between art and function, a hallmark of the period Art Nouveau, and other periods that have tried to mix the two together.

In 1985 I introduced Functional Energy Art, where there is no trade-off in a systematic attempt to replace lighting design with art in just about every conceivable application where good interior design is required.

In an accredited continuing education seminar approved by The American Society of Interior Designers I began the indoctrination of interior and lighting designers, architects, space planners, illumination engineers and museum curators into this new movement.

Neon Chandelier

In the neon sculpture above, judge it independently as abstract art, good or bad or somewhere in between. In this state it is art for art’s sake.

However the sculpture undergoes a continuous unseen metamorphoses as the multi-color light from the neon tubes recombine into white light after impacting on any and all objects in the immediate vicinity except on those objects that are mirrors or made of smooth and highly polished materials.

Walls, floors, ceilings, china, armoires, books, food, children, adults, dogs, cats, paintings, curtains, objects d’art, bric-a-brac, sheets, pillows, blankets, sofas all bathed in probably the most functional light ever conceived by man.

The resultant white light illuminates the space and everything in it with no loss in energy efficiency. Five primary color neon tubes produce exactly the same amount of white light in recombination as five white fluorescent tubes of the same wattage.

Further, by controlling the voltage and thus the intensity of each color, white light of varying spectrum curves are produced such as fluorescent, incandescent, sunlight, etc., all from one light source, something that has never been done before.

As such the white light can be judged independently for it’s functionality, it’s energy efficiency (4 times more efficient than incandecents, as efficient as fluorescents, cold, cathode, mercury vapor, etc.), it’s color temperature, it’s foot candles, etc.

Neon Projection System – Kinetic Rainbow

It is the dawning of a new generation and a new movement neither completely in contemporary art or completely in lighting but perhaps completely in a third entity yet to be defined (see also biological illumination)

The above gallery photo is a neon projection system, the first of it’s kind.

This third abstract intellectual dimension, the combination of the two independent entities, in a side by side universe, co-existing and inter-dependent, simultaneously, yet not. The metamorphosis from art to function takes approximately one hundred millionths of a second to occur.

This is a kinetic piece, incredibly soothing to watch as it changes into a thousand different color combinations. It is intended to be independently judged as good or bad abstact art.

Like the previous piece described, the light from this painting metamorphoses, illuminating the space, though the white light appears not to move from the colors that are moving, creating another abstract intellectual dimension.

Light Motion – Paralux


This gallery piece has no color. The changing black and white graphic is created by what is perceived as an unnatural movement of light across completely tranparent Acrylic protrusions connected at precise angles to a white formica canvas.

The light behaves like a skimming stone across water creating shadows of every intensity from light gray through black indistinguishable from a painted graphic except here it is painted with light and the graphic is ever changing.

As the moving light (which in this painting is responsive to music) leaves the painting it becomes still to our senses illuminating the space without any loss of energy.

Featured below in Vogue Magazine

Tovibulbs, introduced fifteen years earlier became the precursor to Functional Energy Art.

Introduced in 1969 the first two-way mirror lightbulbs transformed an ordinary contemporary chrome lighting fixture into a contemporary sculpture.

Tovibulbs were used worldwide winning several awards for architects, lighting designers, space planners, illuminating engineers, interior designers, etc.

Tovi and Perkins, Inc., the manufacturer, pioneered a new type of metallizing technology actually growing metal molecules on a glass substrate now in use in other industries.

Futurist. Scientist. Artist.

The designs and inventions of Murray Tovi have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Glamour, House & Garden, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and The New York Times.