Prismatica is a new digital sculpture by artist Kit Webster. An arrangement of pyramid-shaped crystals sits on an LCD screen, which plays geometric animations. The edges of the patterns are aligned to the vertices of the crystals, so each one may be illuminated individually or in formation with its brethren. In turn, the light from the animation is refracted through the crystals, resulting in some startling effects. You really have to see it in motion.
Webster says the work grew out of his earlier work projecting mapping onto sculptures and buildings (we’ve covered his work before). “I wanted to know if it was possible to invert this process,” he says. Instead of projecting digital animations onto an irregular surface, he applied different surfaces to a digital screen.
We’ve complained several times before about the shortsightedness of the pictures under glass metaphor of interaction design and it feels appropriate to mention it here. There’s something deeply appealing about Webster’s artwork. Not as a way forward for interaction, but for the shock of seeing a completely different way of using LCD screens. It’s almost spooky to see the smooth animations of the digital world jutting out from a flat surface.
“The most difficult part was the fabrication of the housing and making sure the animations mapped correctly to the crystals.” says Webster, “As I work mainly in the digital realm I had little knowledge of industrial design processes.” For the housing, he worked with Lance Davis to source the work and arrange the components to keep the unit as slim as possible. For the animations, he attached a screen with the fuzed precision cut crystals to his laptop to allow rapid testing. For the final piece, the animation comes from a rendered media file.
Webster is in the process of developing a new piece that runs off of an embedded computer system allowing the perpetual generation of new patterns. The next step, says Webster, is a series of variations of the piece, using larger-scale video screens and more intricate arrangements of the crystals. If you’re interested, he can be reached through his website.