me+you is a two-story, interactive sculpture communicating through light integrated with AI.

Artist Suchi Reddy employed Reveal Design Group principal and co-founder, Levia Lew at the conceptual phase of her installation for the Smithsonian Intuition’s 175th anniversary exhibition. Reddy presented her vision in a rendering that detailed the form, scale and intent of the sculpture indicating broad brush strokes of light and its defining role in the sculpture. Our task was to interpret the abstract ideas into something buildable without sacrificing the spirit of the piece. Numerous studies and mockups were conducted via acrylic, glass, plastic, paper and fabric types to evaluate the optical and light transmission quality of each. As lighting designers, we brought our understanding of light’s effect on and through possible materials in order to come to the combination that fulfilled the proposed perception and brought me+you to life.

The sculpture comprises three illuminated elements: a shimmering cloud of light points at the ends of over 1,000 translucent, glowing acrylic rods; nine dynamic hemispherical LED portals; and a 20-foot-high central pillar totem composed of radiating fins with LED panels hidden within. Exhibit visitors would be invited to speak their future vision in a single word into an LED portal. Utilizing AI techniques, the artwork translates the vision word and reflects its emotion and tone into a unique kinetic mandala of coloured light, which then flows up the center totem where input from the other eight portals is combined into an ever-changing expression of “collective futures” through light.

Light embodies both the physical and the metaphysical in this sculpture. The physical function is for the sculpture to simply be seen. Light fixtures had to be embedded within the sculpture to allow the rods to glow and for the LED portals to have a physical form in which to transmit the content of colour and movement. The metaphysical function of light is to visibly manifest the abstract expression and emotion of each visitor. Our role was to decipher how to make the light work as artistically envisioned and determine the most appropriate light fixtures that would a) fit within the sculpture’s dimensions, b) have the optical properties to capitalize upon the materials chosen and convey intended visuals, and c) fit within the allotted budget.

me+you was on view at the Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industries Building through July 6, 2022.

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