Prismatic: An Experience of Light, Color and Space

Designers Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa of Hou de Sousa, recently presented Prismatic, a stunning stand alone installation. A kaleidoscopic experience of light, color, and space defined by an aggregation of perspectives, the piece is currently on show in Art Omi in Ghent, in the USA.

Unique on all sides, Prismatic encourages the public to explore its exterior, as well as meander through its translucent corridors. Iridescent rope weaves between a lattice of rebar, while the gaps between these cords provide transparency and results in a dynamic visual effect known as a moiré. As visitors turn their gaze or walk about the space, patterns in the background and foreground continuously converge and delaminate, warping visual perception and causing static surfaces to appear in flux.

The design of Prismatic oscillates between the adversarial forces of expansion and limitation. Prisms burst forth from a central point but these projections are halted by the invisible boundaries of a rectangular box. Contextual features, such as the Potomac River, a nearby fountain, and an adjacent avenue echo into the box, forming fault lines that shatter the box into nine blocks, which were then subsequently pushed apart in order to create pathways.

Prismatic resembles a solid mass at first glance, but is entirely defined by linear elements (paracord and rebar). As a result, the project occupies a substantial volume relative to its weight while also forming a highly redundant structure.

Given the constraints, geometric complexity, and labor required to fabricate the project, it was necessary to work with simple off-the-shelf materials, but this ultimately proved to be a strength. While many of the design elements are typically considered “taboo” (zip ties, paracord, rebar, and black lights) the designers were undeterred, as these proved best for their given roles. The grip of the coarse rebar was superior to smooth steel bars and zip ties made better fasteners than knots. The key priorities were the overall affect and fully immersing the public in a large-scale experience.

The end result is simply stunning.

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