This summer I was invited to participate in an international paper art biennial at CODA museum in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. I exhibited Light Harvest, a large interactive installation art that is inspired by the intriguing protein structure of Light-harvesting Complexes (LHC). LHC contains pigments that absorb light and transfer the solar energy to chemical energy.
Three large crates, about 37.5″ D x 22.5″ H x 73″ L, and one small crate, about 28.5″ D x 19″ L x 33.5″ H, were shipped from Bloomington, Indiana, to Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in early May. My team and I arrived in Apeldoorn in late May. We rented a small Airbnb house near the museum for four days and were able to walk to the museum to work every day. It was an enjoyable experience. On the first day, the museum staff helped us set up the ceiling canopy in the exhibition space. On the second and the third day, we worked on the paper structure installation and the technical setup. On the fourth day, we worked on the projection mapping.
After we arrived in Apeldoorn, Kyle Overton and I decided that we would try a new way of coding in Processing to produce a different interactive experience than the previous installation at the Grunwald Gallery. As a result, Kyle spent most of the four days writing 1500 lines of the codes! The Processing outputs a smooth gradation of cool blue and green hues, to be projection-mapped onto the folded Light Harvest protein structure. The green and blue gradation of light, projected from three projectors, mimics the deep water in which certain photosynthetic algae with a particular class of phycobilin pigments live. Each pigment, contained within LHC, has a unique absorption spectrum, allowing it to absorb certain wavelengths of light. These particular algae, appearing to be red, can carry out photosynthesis in deep water where the wavelengths of blue-green lights are most abundant by absorbing blue-green and reflecting red! When viewers enter the exhibition floor and interact with each chain of Light Harvest, the chain will turn into red-orange color. The interaction means to let the viewers know that photosynthesis is in action!
I would like to say thank you the CODA Museum staff, particularly Roosmarij Deenik and Helma Peters for helping to turn this project into a reality.
Jiangmei Wu (with Kyle Overton and Susanne Ressl)
Production team: Steven Dixon, Siqiao Gao, Dexter Wu