At first glance, the Lucid Stead installation looks like an ordinary wooden cabin, but as you come closer it starts to transform into a unique viewing device that reveals and augments the changing colors and subtle movements of the California desert. Artist Phillip K. Smith, III took a 70-year-old homesteader shack, equipped it with LED lights, mirrors and Arduino programming and created an interactive structure that reflects sunlight during the day and turns into floating rectangular fields of color at night.
The project is based on the idea of immersing oneself into a seemingly static environment and discovering its subtle changes and rhythms. As visitors step onto the dusty ground of the Joshua Tree National Park in California, the project begins to unfold and reveal a mesmerizing interplay of light and shadows. From sunrise to sunset, the shack’s mirror bands reflect light across the desert landscape and blur the line between architecture and nature. The ethereal quality of the mirrors is in contrast with the splintering wood siding-a combination that creates an amalgam of dreamlike landscapes and materiality of buildings.
At night, the LED-lit doors and windows of the shack start to emanate different colors at a pace slow enough to confuse the observer. By introducing a gradual change in color, the artist forces visitors to question their perception. At one point the windows and doors look blue, yellow and red, but by the time one walks ten feet away, the colors change and establish a new environment. One’s entire way of looking aligns itself to the changes in the surroundings and forces the observer to slow down and take in the desert’s hidden complexity.
Photos by Steve King Architectural Imaging