Prismatic_NYC is a luminous-kinetic sculpture oscillating above The High Line in New York City. Measuring 70’ x 10’ (25 m x 2.5 m), Prismatic is comprised of 66 individual prisms, each driven by a brushless motor together beaming over 40,000 integrated LED’s. Prismatic allows us to meditate on the beauty of light, geometry, and waveforms. Each side distinguishable from the other as they absorb, reflect, and generate light. Harmonious luminescent rotations broadcast oscillating waves that spread out through the space and constantly reflecting our changing environment.

Interior Architects approached our team with an initial idea: to build an installation that would be similar to a Trivision billboard, which brings to mind those advertising campaigns which consist of triangular prisms simultaneous rotating 120 degrees to display a new message as each face rotates into place. Our challenge was to expand this idea and generate a nostalgic but distinct experience. This optimization would require a tweak, so, we imagined a new system: tapering each prism and alternating their orientation. This strategy would give us control of the visual apex that was met between each pair. Each prism has a base diameter of 12” at the edges and tapers to 6” toward the center across a 10 ft. span. RMI, based in Tennessee, developed and fabricated a working mechanical system, and Dan Moore programmed Prismatic to start rolling when specific positions associated with a moving waveform are sent to each motor. The result is the animated undulating wave of light concurrently achieving lateral translations of the 2D curve which flows volumetrically through the space.

A long pedestrian bridge located high across a New York City street connects the tech company’s headquarters to their new office building above the Chelsea Market. The Prismatic sculpture cycles through space from its installation on the ceiling of the bridge. Prismatic’s performance can be altered programmed and controlled but moves in response to current weather conditions. Measuring data, such as cloud cover, wind speed, humidity, and accumulation or intensity of precipitation, directly affect the amplitude, frequency, speed, and position offset of the generated and animated wave form the sculpture is moving to. Temperature changes generate a noise function that develops the sculptures color and light behavior. It also has a calendar and receives API data to understanding the current season or holidays, sunrises and sunsets, tidal movements, and lunar and celestial events, always changing, and never the same.

The design of the tapered prisms went through various iterations. Generative and parametric design approaches ensured the optimization of the visual experience. The prisms’ physical components, fabrication, applet, website, and experience are of custom design, using the highest quality materials to ensure maximum performance for the next five years.


PRESS

Architectural DigestThis NYC Light Installation Changes with the Weather
Creators ProjectSky Bridge Robot Sculpture Responds to Nature
Fast CompanyNew York’s High Line Finally Living Up To Trippy Namesake


Hyphen-Labs – Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ece Tankal, and Ashley Baccus-Clark – is an international team of women of color working at the intersection of technology, art, science, and the future. Through our global vision and unique perspectives we are driven to create meaningful and engaging ways to explore emotional, human-centered and speculative design. In the process we challenge conventions and stimulate conversations, placing collective needs and experiences at the center of evolving narratives.