Global weather expressed in light
The Leonardo, a museum that explores the intersection between science, technology, art and creativity, is full of stunning art pieces. But one multimedia installation that stands out from the rest is Dynamic Performance of Nature, or DPoN, a permanent architectural installation that greets visitors at the entrance of the museum. DPoN is comprised of recycled plastic "fins" that house solar-powered LED lights that change color, intensity, and movement based on real-time weather information from around the world.
In December of 2009, the museum sent out a call for art submissions. The museum wanted to feature a public art piece in the lobby that exemplified The Leonardo's blend of science, technology, and art. It was their hope that the installation could be enjoyed by the general public while also separating the exhibition and lobby areas of the museum. Out of 75 submissions, The Leonardo chose Brian Brush and Yong Ju Lee's DPoN, which best embodied The Leonardo's focus on technology as art, with a heavy emphasis on sustainability.
Brush and Lee based the installation on the idea that sustainability should evolve beyond conventional green techniques into something alive and integrated with the environment. The goal was for visitors to experience an art piece that appears to be alive and pulsing with information.
Lighting brings the installation to life. Brush and Lee chose LED lighting for its flexibility and expansive color gamut. Unlike conventional lighting systems, LED lighting solutions also have the ability to display live video feeds from a media server — capabilities that were essential to the installation.
Brush and Lee used 28 strings of iColor Flex MX (now specified as iColor Flex MX gen2). These multi-purpose strands of high-intensity LED nodes are the perfect choice for multimedia art installations. These direct-view fixtures can easily adapt and shape to any surface. Each node was custom spaced, ranging from 102 mm (4 in) to 457 mm (18 in) apart. The spacing carefully follows the curved geometry of the wall within which they are embedded. These strands of LED nodes perfectly illuminate the recycled polyethylene wall to create a low-resolution media screen.
"Probably the best feature of the iColor Flex that I was able to leverage for Dynamic Performance of Nature was the manufacturing capability of the product which allowed for custom spacing of the LED nodes on each strand. Without this capability, I would not have been able to accentuate the complex geometry of the project's form," said Brush.
As visitors enter the museum, they are immediately drawn to this attractive piece.
At first, it appears to be simply a decoration. Visitors soon realize, however, that the installation is not only an astonishing piece of art, but a practical one as well. The color spectrum that flows through the wall reflects the temperatures in the weather feed; the speed of the colors reflects the wind speed; and the direction of color flow indicates the direction of the wind. When an earthquake registers with the USGS, a world map is displayed on the screen showing the earthquake's location. The brighter the color, the stronger the quake.
Visitors can interact with the wall using Twitter to send messages that can either change the weather feed or the colors that flow along the wall. A popular Twitter request is "Yakutsk" — the coldest city on earth. When someone tweets this simple message, the wall turns a deep, rich shade of violet.