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Poetic Art Installation Harnesses The Blistering Texas Sun [Video]

Architects create haunting optical effects at the Rubin Center in El Paso using mirrors, plaster fabric, and Texas’s best natural resource, the sun.

Poetic Art Installation Harnesses The Blistering Texas Sun [Video]
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Most of us know of plaster-impregnated fabric as the stuff doctors use to set broken bones. Phoenix architects Atherton/Keener use it as canvas for a large, dynamic art work “painted” with the sun’s rays.

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We realize that sounds a bit muzzy. But stick with us here, because the concept is actually pretty poetic. The architects — made up of Cal architecture-school grads Jay Atherton and Cy Keener — stationed nine mirrors throughout the dusty, sun-bleached landscape of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts in El Paso, Texas. Then, in the largest gallery, they suspended nearly 5,000 hand-cut squares of plaster fabric to create diaphanous, vertical walls. The mirrors throw sunlight against the walls, producing haunting optical effects: The light appears like ghosts dancing around the gallery. Skip to 3:20 to see what we mean:

What’s most impressive about the installation — which the architects call Light Lines — is that it’s always changing. Each mirror works best at a certain time of day based on its location and angle. On top of that, gallery staff adjust the mirrors every week in response to the position of the sun in the sky. All of which goes a long way toward saying that you could visit the exhibit every day between 11:30 a.m. and sunset, from now to when it closes September 21 (just two days shy of the equinox), and no two days, or even two hours, would look exactly the same.

Check out the Rubin Center’s website for more info.

[Images courtesy of Atherton/Keener; hat tip to Notcot]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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