Client: The Geode
Location: Portland, OR, United States
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $110,000
Two animated light boxes were designed into a 2-story addition for an existing building in Portland, Oregon. The custom acrylic boxes are 35’ high, expanding from 12” x 8” at street level to 44” x 8” at the top. Each “light blade” contains about 15,000 LEDs driven by proprietary software/hardware. Images fed into the system are manipulated into continuously changing abstract patterns of color and light. The building’s interior incorporates numerous angles that are reflected in the shape of the light blades. The building was renamed “The Geode,” a creative nest for entrepreneurs. This space celebrates creativity.
The building purpose as a creative hub within a very creative community required a dramatic differentiator. The goals were:
1. Create a unique visual feature that attracts attention from the street
2. Design and build a visually engaging element that entertains and inspires imagination
3. Involve local creative people by inviting them to submit their art to be projected
Sculptor (and building owner), Martin Eichinger, began his career creating technology-driven interactive science museum exhibits. His dream was to triple the working space in his studio/office building. He hired Waterleaf as architect for his vision. Concurrently, dream team of technical wizards was recruited to design, program, test and build the light blades. The variety of experience and creativity of the team was critical for endless problem solving as the project evolved.
Once the light blade concept was defined, their form and functionality were integrated into the building design. The creative/tech team went to work creating a specifications, prototyping circuit boards, writing code, testing the results on small LED panels and evaluating the impact. Flexibility for manipulating imagery for day and night visibility was a key benchmark.
Many months of prototyping, testing and analysis crystalized into a distinctive, functional form. The first public view of the light blades had pedestrians reaching for their mobile phones to share selfies and videos.
This project brings attention to the building and its creative community. The project also proves the concept works. Sculptor and experience visionary, Marty Eichinger said, “If we can do this here, we can create visual experiences anywhere.”
The sculptor and creative driver behind this project began his career creating interactive science museum interpretive projects. After many years as a successful narrative sculptor working in bronze, Marty has returned to his first passion, the art of experiences. He has been a contributor to displays at Burning Man in the past as a test site for his ideas. This project, and the technology developed for it, is a direction his studio will now focus.