Client: Oklahoma City Convention Center
Location: Oklahoma City, OK, United States
Completion date: 2021
Artwork budget: $1,300,000
Product Design Engineering / Fabrication / Installation
Custom Software Developer
VIRTUAL SKY is conceived as a synergy of fixed and fluid elements, a layering of form and light and of moments captured in real-time. Here, the beauty and changeability of the Oklahoma Sky is re-conceptualized through technology.
The suspended structure spans the two glass public atriums. Within each, anodized titanium forms create an environment inspired by the sky’s movement. Their reflective surfaces respond to light and shadow from the surrounding environment. The palette evokes the subtle shifts of color one experiences throughout the day and throughout the season. Within this field of color, a grid of 60,000 points of light connected to a stream of Oklahoma City Data Portals trace weather patterns in realtime. Each point of light is individually addressable, allowing for a canvas of infinite visual possibilities. Together, the suspended titanium and light structure creates an immersive visual experience, a digital simulacra that parallels the complexity of the ongoing natural phenomena of the vast, changeable, majestic sky that is so much a part of this city.
Virtual Sky can also be explored through its Augmented Reality app which gives the viewer an in-depth look of the installation and the weather data that drives it in real time.
Virtual Sky evolves in tandem with the environment itself. As weather data is analyzed and translated into patterns of light, real-time shifts in movement and color reflect upon the natural world. These dynamic layers bring an immediacy to the work and the opportunity for public engagement and discovery that will grow over time. The elusive nature of the reflective titanium and dynamic light creates and ever-changing three dimensional color field as one’s perspective shifts.
From the street, Virtual Sky plays with the ever-changing reflections of the Convention Center curtain wall. The artwork creates a visual link between the two atriums, as if a gentle breeze were blowing through the building. Inside, its colors and reflective surfaces animate the public spaces. Throughout the day the artwork comes alive, a reflection of the changing sky. Like the building’s glass atriums, its transparency invites the public in.
In the evening, the animated movement of color is experienced from within the Convention Center, the downtown streetscape and the large park beyond. The region’s invisible layers of data become the means to activate the public spaces through the powerful and yet ephemeral language of light.
To realize the concept for Virtual Sky, we started with an intense design engineering phase to create a proof of concept. Working with consultants MODE Studios and 5TEN we developed a full scale prototype of a portion of the artwork that met the design criteria.
Given the manufacturing and logistical challenges at the height of the Covid pandemic, we then needed to quickly engineer a systems infrastructure that could be integrated into the building, which was well underway. The siting within the 90’ and 60’ foot high atria required extremely robust and smartly engineered structural and electrical systems. Simultaneously, we began design studies for the titanium and the generative content and created a 3D model of the Convention Center so we could test visualizations of the artwork from all perspectives. Working with our programming team, we developed a playback system that could read and analyze the realtime weather data and translate it into patterns of light.
A Universe control solution with remote access for maintenance was implemented and an iPad interface with unique presets developed by Narduli Studio for Convention Center and OKC events was provided for easy use by staff.
Project Facts:* Virtual Sky is a Realtime LED voxel structure spanning two atriums Volume: 116,000 Cubic Feet Strands: 270 Titanium, 245 LED, longest approx. 72’ Anodized Titanium: 1,000 pieces in 2’,4’,6’ lengths Voxels: 6,000 individually addressable full-color pixel nodes with daylight brightness and 360° visibility Each custom voxel has 10 LED diodes creating 60,000 points of light How it works: Custom algorithms analyze and translate realtime streaming data into light animations to create a 3D simulation of the weather affecting Oklahoma City. Data API Fields: Temperature, Wind Speed and Direction, Humidity, Cloud Coverage, Precipitation Primary Data Source: openweathermap.org