Jamie Zigelbaum created a site-specific lighting installation, composed of numerous, truncated tetrahedral forms, for this year's Design Miami/ Basel, opening 17 June 2014.
Every June, Design Miami/ Basel commissions a monumental work by an early-career architect or designer offering a platform for experimentation and engagement with an international audience.
Suspended from the ceiling of the entrance hall of the Herzog & De Meuron designed Basel Exhibition Centre, the forms that make up Jamie Zigelbaum’s Triangular Series resemble highly evolved stalactites, blurring the boundary between life and not-life. Pulsing with light and responding with a unique sensitivity to the people sharing the space with them, 59 large, suspended tetrahedra of varying sizes will be scattered throughout the space to create an all-encompassing, immersive environment for visitors as they arrive and depart the fair.
Constructed from translucent acrylic, the refined forms of Triangular Series are the outer shells of a highly sophisticated interactive system. The heart of each form is a synthesis of custom electronics, including high-power LEDs, advanced sensors and software that allows each form to communicate with both individuals in the space, as well as each other. Each form has a luminous respiratory system, a gentle rhythm of illumination that is uniquely its own. As visitors approach each object, their respiration changes and the forms react. The tetrahedrals also communicate with each other, synchronizing rhythms of illumination through an invisible, digitally mediated dialogue. While each form is itself an individual, synthetic organism, together they act as one — an emergent presence that transcends each’s individuality.
In designing Triangular Series, Zigelbaum was interested in communicating the concept of entrainment — a phenomenon affecting both the organic and inorganic worlds by which rhythms fall in step with one another. Entrainment is seen, for example, in the synchronized flashing of Malaysian fireflies, in the human heart rate, and in the way that pendulum clocks placed close to one another will gradually assume the same period. The inventor of the pendulum, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens, first observed the phenomenon in the 17th century, calling it an “odd sympathy.”
Left alone, the light quality and ‘respiration’ pattern of the Triangular Series forms will likewise fall into synchronicity — the arrival of a moving figure in their space acts as a disruptive force, modifying their behavior; they will switch from cool white to a warm quality of LED light, and respond to the movement of the bodies through the space. “For me, the process of creation is about understanding,” says Zigelbaum. “I hope that the process of understanding the world around us is translated through the work. I’m interested in using technology to explain harder-tocommunicate ideas; in Triangular Series it is to create a dialogue between organic and inorganic entities.” Conceived as rather alien beings in the space, the forms in the series are designed to be beautiful, crystalline, sensate objects, but not necessarily comforting ones.
Design: Jamie Zigelbaum
Commissioned by: Design Miami/ Basel