Insomniac

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Client: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary

Location: Dallas, TX, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team

Artist

Carmen Menza

Menza Art Studios

Industry Resource

Gary DeLarios

Lost Arts

Industry Resource

Brad Litteken

Buy LEDs

Overview

Insomniac is a 58” circular digital sculpture utilizing LED lighting and software programming. It was designed by Menza Art Studio for the McKinney Avenue Contemporary Museum in Dallas, TX. The design brief requested proposals to address specific criteria. Specifications requested that it utilize a historic trolley stop and use lighting that can illuminate bright blue walls. Three separate areas of proposed light installations were addressed. Materials used: LED lamps, digital controller box, polycarbonate, electrical cable, steel.

Goals

The commissioned work was to provide a beacon to visitors and draw attention to the obscured front entrance to the museum. The curvature of road preceding the museum and large mature trees made the entrance difficult to see from the street. Menza Art Studio created a circular 58” diameter light sculpture in continuity with the MAC’s logo. Insomniac emits moving abstract fields of color which engage and captivate gallery guests and passersby. It continuously changes over the course of 20 minutes never repeating itself. The sculpture detects the presence of visible light and comes on only at sundown and turns off at sunrise. All lighting is computer-controlled, energy-efficient LED technology. Continuing on the museum’s branded color of blue we also installed a Lumenbeam LBX with blue gel that illuminated a large tree just across the city sidewalk. By utilizing these lighting options we increased the footprint of the museum without installing materials beyond the their property. This addition was to greatly increase visibility from McKinney Ave. and the surrounding area. A high-performance linear LED luminaire was installed at the rear of the building and calibrated to emit blue light also. Integrating all work into existing structures was important for success.

Process

Menza Art Studio worked closely with both museum owner and director to site the work and develop its scale and successful integration with the trolley structure, front entrance and rear entrance of building. The artist also collaborated closely with metal fabricator Gary DeLarios, lighting consultant Brad Litteken and Hossley Lighting Associates in the refinement of the technical specs and in developing the lighting display. Each node of the LED chain was programmed to an X/Y coordinate using the Phillips Color Kinectics software program. A linear timeline of animation was then created and exported into hardware.
Insomniac and the other light based works were unveiled at the MAC’s annual Blue Yule holiday party in December of 2013. It was a great experience working alongside Gary DeLarious and Brad Litteken in creating this work and with the subcontractors for installation of all the different components. Despite a tight deadline and an approaching rare ice storm preceding installation we succeeded in meeting deadline and creating a unique light sculpture that engages visitors to museum.

Additional Information

This project was made possible by the generous help and support of Claude Albritton, Lisa Hees, Aja Martin, Gary DeLarios - Lost Arts, Brad Litteken and David Neale - BUYLeds, George Palmer and Michael Dawson - Hossley Lighting, and Alexandra Phillips.