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Guy Marsden
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Thérèse Lahaie
2015

"Crossing Signal Mosaic"

 

I have worked with Thérèse Lahaie since the mid 1990's when she was making kinetic sculptures that were solar powered.  Recently she asked for  my help to do something that would be visually interesting using to red numbers in her large-scale public artwork: "Crossing Signal Mosaic" installed in Emeryville California not far from her studio.  The numbers are intended to invoke the countdown numbers you see on sidewalk crossings that tell you how long you have left to cross.  As we worked together, she decided to deconstruct the number format and break it up into patterns and segments.  We were able to work together in real time via Skype so that I could show her changes to the programming as she suggested them.  Ultimately I created programming for three pairs of numbers that ran over 2 minutes each.

“Crossing Signal Mosaic” is a ceiling mounted LED Sculpture that presents the familiar iconography of the crossing signals that govern everyday movement.

“Crossing Signal Mosaic” is a ceiling mounted light sculpture composed of programmed, DMX-controlled LED boxes that play a pulsing array of pedestrian crossing signal imagery.

The permanent installation is located in the entrance of Parc on Powell at
1333 Powell Street, Emeryville, CA. The light show plays daily from sunset to midnight and every hour on the hour from 7 AM - 3 PM.

Thérèse is shown at left posing with her installation.
Here is an interior view of one of the light boxeswith a single digit installed.  There are two digits installed in every box and the background colors are capable of being programmed to any color.


The LED digits were made from kits designed for hobbyists to experiment with and had prototyping areas for adding additional circuits.  It was relatively simple for me to add a microcontroller chip (as indicated below) that would enable me to program which segments of each digit illuminated at any given time.  This created a lot more flexibility than Thérèse had originally imagined because she was no longer limited to simply numbers.  She was familiar with my body of work in which I deconstruct numbers and incorporated some of those ideas into this work as we evolved a visual language for these numbers.
I started out by providing her with custom programming sheets so that she could definewhich segments within each number to light up and how long they were to stay lit.  We both found this a very useful tool as a starting point for the visual choreography.  We then worked together via Skype with my WebCam trained on the numbers as she described changes she would like to see and I was able to adjust the programming in real time as we worked together.  Ultimately each of the 3 sets of numbers incorporated a choreography that lasted around two minutes and I sent Thérèse videos of each completed pair of digits for her reference as they were completed.
Given that these numbers represent a very small part of a large and complex artwork, I was very impressed by how much time and attention Thérèse paid to creating a very refined and controlled aesthetic for hese numbers.  Most viewers will never notice the Fibonacci series embedded in the number sequence, but it was important to Thérèse.  It is always a great pleasure to work with her.

contact Thérèse Lahaie at:  therese@thereselahaie.com
or visit her web site:
http://thereselahaie.com/

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