Client: Arizona State University
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, United States
Completion date: 2019
Shane Allbritton, Norman Lee
Design Optimization / Project Management
Sunburst features three stainless steel framework rings that are embedded with color-changing dichroic glass panels. The three rings are connected in a relative three-axis relationship, inspired by the form of a spherical astrolabe. Raised up by a corten steel plinth, the resulting form is a dramatic, radiant gesture that celebrates the convergence of data, technology, and the global economy. As an alternate option, the sculptural form is suspended by cables that attach to the building and a column, allowing viewers to actually walk underneath the sculpture.
ASU’s SkySong is a nexus where innovators come together to use data and technology to navigate the complexities of global information, commerce, and the public sphere. As artists, we took inspiration from the spherical astrolabe, an astronomical computer used throughout history for navigation and predicting the positions of the Sun and stars. Sunburst reinterprets the rings of an astrolabe as sunburst diagrams, a type of data visualization used in diverse fields to show meaningful relationships in complex data.
Our team, RE:site and Metalab,are currently working with the architects and landscape architects of SkySong to coordinate several aspects of seamless integration of the artwork into the site.
The title of the artwork, Sunburst, has multiple layers of meaning. The Sun is central to ASU symbolism and the natural environment of Arizona. As the bright Arizona sun travels overhead, the sculpture’s dichroic glass panels change color, transparency, and reflectivity. The artwork changes continually with the movement of the sun and the viewer, poetically evoking that technologically-driven data is continually changing in real-time. Like the sun, data visualization makes the invisible visible. At night, the sculpture is dramatically up lit, providing a very different experience of reflected and transparent color.