“Reflect” : Permanent Interactive Light Installation
2010 – 2011
LED, Custom Light Boxes, Custom Software and Camera Tracking
Ivan Toth Depeña’s light-based installation “Reflect” was permanently installed in the Stephen Clark Government Center Lobby in Miami. Commissioned by the Miami-Dade Art in Public Places initiative, the work illuminates the dynamism of the lobby space and encourages a sense of discovery in the visitors.
“This dynamic art work is designed by the artist with the idea of welcoming visitors and employees to Government Center in a fun and interactive way,” said Michael Spring, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs. “It will energize the lobby and symbolize the County’s commitment to be informative and responsive to our citizens.”
As a main stop in Miami’s MetroRail system, the space serves as a hub for commuters; incorporating the notion of daily circulation into his piece, Depeña uses sensors and light to focus on the communal nature and circulatory qualities of the lobby. The project engages the building’s visitors and references the idea of community through various means of reflection, group interactivity and high-tech playfulness.
The basis of the project is a network of custom designed LED light boxes placed at specific locations throughout the lobby space. These light boxes interact and respond to the commuter’s movement and gesture via camera tracking, creating an energetic and vibrant artwork.
Custom software has been developed to complete Depeña’s vision and the LED nodes have been individually programmed to be the anchor of the work’s responsiveness and interactivity. Passers-by have their images captured by several infrared cameras; the installation’s software then abstracts that image in real time, displaying this abstraction on the light covered columns. The resulting image creates an ethereal mirror that testifies to the participation of the audience and the activity of the space.
The colorful lights of the installation also engage those beyond the lobby—as some columns face the public plaza—and the installation remains functioning even when there are no active participants, as the light panels retain the “memory” of users’ interactivity. This is a key element in the conceptual infrastructure of the installation. The “memory” gives the space added life and allows the community to be a part of the constantly evolving artwork. Sensitive enough to detect the difference between multiple and single users, the system will vary the output and scale of the display to the number of visitors, and the hues will change according to the time of day. All visitors experience the vibrancy of Depeña’s work and have the ability directly affect the piece or simply witness the patterns produced by other users, elaborating on the idea of time and memory in the space.