Client: San Francisco Arts Commission / SFO Airport
Location: San Francisco, CA, United States
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $290,000
Claudia Reisenberger & Franka Diehnelt
merge conceptual design LLC
Public Art Agent
Marcus Davies, Susan Pontious
San Francisco Arts Commission
Gensler San Francisco
KEIM Mineral Coatings of America, Inc.
Light & Video Consultant
Sky is a suspended light sculpture for a newly renovated terminal at the San Francisco International Airport (United Terminal 3, Boarding Area E). The challenge was to create a light installation that would be visible during day and night hours in a brightly day-light lit space. The installation creates a focal point in the central waiting area at the end of the terminal.
Our installation is comprised of 27 mirror-polished stainless steel spheres, ranging in diameters from 2 to 5 feet. The globes are hollow with circular openings facing various directions. The interior surface of the spheres is extremely matte, and illuminated by LED light-strips that are hidden in the rim of the spheres. Slowly changing illumination levels in the interior of each globe give the illusion of an expanding and flattening space: it becomes indiscernible whether one looks at a surface or into an opening. The color shades, created both by the painted interior and the lighting components, are representative of various sky colors. The installation explores the human perception of space: the exterior of the mirrored spheres camouflage them in their surroundings; they reflect their environment, and distort and reproduce it in miniature. The optical illusion caused by the slow color and light changes in the interior causes the viewer to lose a sense of the spheres’ proportions as objects. The space becomes unreadable – opening and closing at the same time.
The project was part of a larger renovation of the terminal and was closely coordinated with our clients - the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Airport, as well as with the project architects (Gensler) and engineers. Morgan Barnard served as consultant for the Arduino based lighting program.
By creating hollow cavities that were consequently illuminated, the light installation is successful even in bright daylight. The slow shifts in light levels becomes entrancing for passengers waiting below the spheres.