Sky

Submitted by merge conceptual design

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Client: San Francisco Arts Commission / SFO Airport

Location: San Francisco, CA, United States

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $290,000

Project Team

Artist

Claudia Reisenberger & Franka Diehnelt

merge conceptual design LLC

Public Art Agent

Marcus Davies, Susan Pontious

San Francisco Arts Commission

Architect

Gensler San Francisco

Industry Resource

Oliver Stetter

Weltkugelmanufaktur

Industry Resource

Tom Tipps

KEIM Mineral Coatings of America, Inc.

Artist

Morgan Barnard

Light & Video Consultant

Overview

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.

Goals

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.

Process

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.

Additional Information

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.