Responding to the form and function of the entrance hallway at 21c Kansas City, Luftwerk’s Linear Sky features light fixtures that vary in length, producing an anamorphic optical illusion of an expanding, outward pattern of line and color upon both entering and exiting the ramp. The hues from one direction differ from those in the opposite, acting like a multi-colored mirror of each other and differentiating the experience of moving into or out of the hallway. The LEDs are programmed with a lighting sequence inspired by the changing hues of the outdoor skies above the urban landscape of Kansas City: the palette of bright morning saturates the walls that greet visitors, while the glow of waning daylight colors envelop those en route to the outdoors. Evoking the span from dawn to dusk and back again, Linear Sky juxtaposes day and night, nature and technology, past and present, welcoming visitors into a space of the future. The vertical light fixtures installed on monochromatic walls reference the aesthetics of Minimalism, and create a strong, contemporary contrast to the historic patterning on the floor and the ornate pilasters on the walls. The geometric interplay of the vertical and the horizontal within this narrow, ramp leading to and from the lobby both highlights and transforms the architecture, offering visitors views of a new horizon from either direction.
Exploring the interplay of light and color, afterglow, presents concepts that have evolved over a decade of research, experimentation, and installations by Luftwerk. Through a large-scale immersive wall installation and a series contained light boxes, this exhibition reveals Luftwerk’s interest in the effects of a gradient of light, from brightness to darkness and the shifting perception of colors in different light conditions.
Experimenting with light conditions—from day to night, light to dark—the color-coded wallpaper is activated through shifting color interactions and perceptions. These principles of light and color interactions are contained through a series of corresponding lightboxes. Each featuring a different color, they explore how color lives between light and dark and how this interaction affects spatial sensibilities.
afterglow is Luftwerk’s first solo exhibition at Volume Gallery
Inviting viewers to experience a series of transitions, Becoming created an evolving experience of color and exploration. The immersive installation at Design Miami flipped through cycles of change to the reflect an evolution of patterns in nature. Based on Emil Galle’s drawing of the anemone a custom-designed wallpaper animated through washes of light in the RGB spectrum. The interplay of the lights with the cyan, green, and yellow printed wallpaper continuously changed the atmosphere of the room and perception of the layered patterns as they intensified or receded with the shifting lights. An infinity mirror flanked both ends of the room, creating an intriguing and mystifying experience. These visual portals captivated the viewer and beckoned associations to the large network of underground tunnels in the cellars of Perrier-Jouët’s Masion Belle Epoque.
A second iteration of this installation took place on Herzog and De Meuron’s 111 Lincoln Road parking garage. Projected onto the ceiling of this open-air structure, the shifting floral pattern created a canopy atop the urban structure. Contrasting with bold and raw concrete structure, the delicate lines of the patterns boldly lit the architecture balancing the atmosphere.
These installations were commissioned and inspired by Maison Perrier-Jouët.
What defines common decency, truth, fact or fiction, and even cultural or national identity is changing. Voices expressing intolerant views and protectionist values have more visibility in politics and media. For a variety of reasons, many people around the world feel distress, and the tools we have used to bring relief before, seem to be failing. The rules of engagement for relating to each other and the natural world are changing.
As an artistic duo that explores the physical and psychological effects of color, Luftwerk know that color theory, while rule-bound, is highly personal. Their large-scale, site-specific installations using projected video to explore relationships between material, form, and light maintain a strong focus on the subjective, which highlights the fleeting and context-specific nature of visual experience. In “Color Code,” they expand that inquiry by investigating color as a system of language and symbols, and a marker of emotion.
Drawing on Goethe’s interpretation of color theory, “Color Code” consists of nine paintings—six-feet-by-six-feet colored squares—applied to the gallery’s walls. The paintings, using the International Morse Code system of dots and dashes to spell out “SOS,” are configured with a variation on complementary color patterns, creating a playful visual excursion. In this pattern, the color scheme maintains the consistency of complementary colors, but in a softer, more harmonious manner. Modest lightbox sculptures that mimic the code’s dashes, feature circular panels backlight by color shifting lights.
In Goethe’s theory of color, different hues carry a physical and mental charge for the viewer. Yellow, for example, is imbued with brightness and joy, while red suggests grace and attractiveness, and might evoke feelings of dignity or gravity in a spectator. Goethe also thought of darkness as more than the absence of light, instead considering it an important component to provoking certain emotions. Black, for Goethe, was not simply the absence of color, but a color itself, and accordingly, the gallery walls have been transformed into a black canvas for “Color Code.”
When wireless radiotelegraph machines were introduced on merchant ships in the early 1900s, sailors finally had a way to signal distress and attract attention if needed. Initially, each country had its own distress signal for its fleet, causing confusion in critical moments. Not everyone could understand or recognize the message encoded in the transmitted sound. When the international distress signal “SOS” was adopted in 1908, its easily recognizable and unique code—no other symbol uses more than eight elements—produced aural unity, a sense of calm in life-or-death situations. As “SOS” began to be incorporated into popular culture, it took on textual inference, such as “Save Our Souls,” “Save Our Ship,” or even “Save Our Succor.” Visually, the pattern forms the letters S (three dots) O (three dashes) S (three dots) allowing it to remain an effective visual distress signal, an ambigram that can be read upside down or right side up. As the world adjusts to new norms in challenging times, re-considering how language, objects and symbols, and even color can help us find stable ground and safety no matter where we are.
Essay by Lee Ann Norman
Cleve Carney Art Gallery
Solarise: A Sea of All Colors, 2015
Garfield Park Conservatory is lauded as one of the great architectural masterpieces in Chicago. Completed in 1907 by the famed landscaped architect Jens Jenson this revolutionary building opened as the largest conservatory in the world. The glass structure contains distinct gardens connected by a series of contiguous pathways runnning throughout the space. Majestic gardens present both contemporary and prehistoric plants in this vibrant environment. In 2011, a storm caused significant damaged to the glass building and the plants within the conservatory.
As part of an effort to raise awareness and draw public attention to the conservatory and rehabilitation efforts, Luftwerk was commissioned to create a series of year-long installations throughout the conservatory. Solarise: A Sea of All Colors contained five distinct installations; each in a different garden, developed with a distinct point of view to frame, highlight, and interpret important elements of the garden.
Perception of color by plants varies greatly from humans. Through photosynthesis of the light spectrum, plants only register two colors: blue as the direction for growth and red as an indication to bloom. Florescence reflected this phenomenon in a canopy of 880 blue and red translucence petal shapes in the Show House of the conservatory. This canopy was activated by light shining through the glass ceiling. Throughout the day, the rising and setting of the sun resulted in a series of colored shadows cast across the floor and the plants below; a visual abstraction of this plant process.
CS Modern Interiors
New Media Caucus—College Art Association
Condé Nast Traveler
The Architect’s Newspaper
Time Out Chicago
Chicago Reader | People Issue 2015
The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studio
Kalos Eidos Skopeo
Kalos Eidos Skopeo translated as the observation of beautiful forms, was developed as a temporary, immersive installation. Three primary components of the project included: a custom-designed, geometric printed textile that covered the walls and floor; a multifaceted, mirrored canopy designed as a life-sized kaleidoscope that framed and reflected the printed design; and a series of LED lights that washed the space in a shifting RGB spectrum.
The large-scale fabric print provided the foundation of this installation. Three geometric designs each in a different color—cyan, magenta, and yellow—were layered on top of one another to create a dimensional pattern. Correlating with the RGB spectrum, LED lights washed the installation while shifting through the colors. Each color wash resulted in different interactions with the printed colors making the layers intensify or recede depending on the reaction. With a yellow light wash, for instance, the red lines in the pattern intensified while the yellow lines receded to the background. Color changes shifted the reception of the print, creating a dynamic and immersive environment. The multi-faceted, mirrored canopy was positioned to give the viewer a life-sized kaleidoscope; it fragmented and reflected the pattern, making a continuous, immersive pattern from floor to ceiling. The canopy was echoed in a large-scaled object placed in front of the installation, reflecting the patterned fabric in its dimensional form.
Mixing colored light with printed color and reflective surfaces, Kalos Eidos Skopeo played with the perception of the view. Color shifts in the lights animated the print. This color play was also enhanced and multiplied in the reflective surfaces that activated the entire installation into a continuous and dynamic environment.
Translucence | Tampa Museum of Art
Translucence experimented with how small shifts can make a large impact in a cultural institution. This simple, yet dynamic design covered all forty-eight panels on the north and south walls lining the atrium and lobby of the Tampa Museum of Art. Visible from both inside and out, the work connected the facing walls in a color dialogue. The project was conceived with the goal to democratize the public area and to engage the community with the museum. When seen from afar, the colors on the two curtain walls interacted in a translucent glow, activating new colors from different perspectives and light situations.
Luminous Field | Millennium Park
Luminous Field transformed the Millennium Park into a digital canvas of motion, light, and geometrical form as the first site-specific video and sound installation in the park. The ten-day installation illuminated Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate and the AT&T Plaza, with dramatic images and colors set to music composed by Owen Clayton Condon.
The work comprised of projections that video-mapped the tiles of the plaza creating a digital mosaic. Inspired by Italian marble floors, the tessellation patterns, the digital mosaic added a new, contemporary layer to the work. Animation of the video composition became an informal hopscotch as visitors tried to anticipate the movement and follow along. The projections interacted with the reflective surface of Cloud Gate in a new, altered state. The piece, a digital playground for the public, attracted over 65,000 visitors to the park.
Luminous Field has been featured in Time magazine, the Chicago Tribune, gestaltens’ book Going Public.
SHIFT | Chicago Cultural Center
In a series of choreographed rooms, Luftwerk developed three interactive and immersive installations at the Chicago Cultural Center. Connected together, the three installations each provided a distinct expression and exploration. With a focus on color, light, and space, Shift engaged thousands of visitors of the course of the exhibition.
Materials: Mixed media, 529 painted canvas squares with two channel video projection
Size: 19′ x 19′
In the first of the three rooms, visitors were greeted with Spectrum. A large-scale, digitized and re-imagined color wheel with 529 painted square panels—similar to pixels of colors—covering an entire wall. Once illuminated with animated, colored light, the reception of the colors shift in more than 3,174 tones of red, yellow, and blue. The varying and mixing of colors created nearly endless possibilities for color perception.
Materials: Mixed media, white floor, three color changing LED lights, sound
Size: 30′ x 40′
Synthesis created an interactive environment, animated by the visitors to the exhibition. A series of colored lights in the room set the stage for shadow play and color mixing. As visitors walked through the space, the light cast colored shadows in three different directions. The overlay of lights and shadows animated the interactions in new color combinations. Custom music by Owen Clayton Condon accompanied the experience.
Materials: 2 channel video projection, mixed media, mylar
Size: 20′ x 6′
Challenging perception by examining how light travels and reflects, Threshold engaged visitors in a geometric and rhythmic display. Two 90-degree mirrored panels focus the viewer’s attention at the far end of the gallery. When vertical beams of light met the mirrored panels it caused the light to bend and gave the illusion that the gallery walls contain a portal beyond the actual space of the gallery as a finale to the exhibition.
Download: SHIFT Brochure