Client: Iowa State University
Location: Ames, IA, United States
Completion date: 2021
Public Art Services
For the Iowa State University Innovation Center artist Catherine Widgery has created two distinct designs for the courtyard and vestibules entitled Interface. To enter this building is to pass through the artwork in the vestibules where pleated dichroic glass walls break up and reconfigure our surroundings, so we see ourselves in relation to the world around us in a transformed way. Anyone passing through the vestibules is reflected multiple times in shifting fragments, a visually rich and always changing experience.
The artwork in the interior courtyard on the second level is a series of suspended ‘floating’ lacy copper screens. Here, thin copper panels have been cut in a chevron pattern, echoing the forms found in the building façade and the pleated forms of the entryway artwork. These open screens create a canopy visible from the windows above, below and within the courtyard itself. Embedded in these screens are thousands of tiny LED lights linked via computer software to an anemometer mounted outside on the building’s roof. This sensor measures wind speed and direction so the lights dim and brighten sequentially in real time as they respond to the invisible energy of the wind.
The art embodies the interface of technology at the threshold between the natural and the human built world, reflecting SIC’s wish for innovative technology to be a part of students’ exploration. What brings ‘life’ to the artwork is our capacity to monitor, record and translate information digitally. Technology translates into a visual experience the invisible energies that bring us alive to our environment through art. Interface also offers the possibility of bringing an interactive component into the lives of the students who will be able to ‘hack’ into the program and control the lighting in ways we can’t yet imagine.