Spotlight TEDx Talk: Touch this art — public art that plays with sound, space and light

A look at Lewin's "Super Pool," a playground of interactive pads. (Photo: Jen Lewin Studio)

A look at TEDxMileHigh speaker Jen Lewin’s “Super Pool,” a playground of interactive pads. (Photo: Jen Lewin Studio)

Artist Jen Lewin transforms public space with large-scale, interactive installations — from geometric colorfully-lit leaping pads to giant laser harps open to all. At TEDxMileHigh, she explains her impetus for creating these pieces, saying, “[My] art is public art that [everyone] can actually participate in together … and [that] can really change a space.” Public space belongs to the public, she says, but that doesn’t always mean it fosters interaction between its visitors. Interactive art changes that.

Visitors to the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto play with Jen Lewin's Magical Harp, an outdoor instrument played by moving through passing your body through LED lights. (Photo: Jen Lewin Studio)

Visitors to the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto play with Jen Lewin’s Magical Harp, an outdoor installation played by moving through LED lights. (Photo: Jen Lewin Studio)

Levin's "The Pool" at SXSW 2013 (Photo: Jen Levin Studio)

Jen Lewin’s “The Pool” at SXSW 2013 (Photo: Jen Lewin Studio)

Jen Lewin's work,  "The Chandelier Harp" on display. The harp can be played by passing through the laser "strings." (Photo: Jen Lewin Studio)

Jen Lewin’s “The Chandelier Harp” on display. The harp can be played by passing through the laser “strings.” (Photo: Jen Lewin Studio)

Her work “The Pool” is a prime example of this. An installation that looks like a giant field of glowing lily pads, “The Pool” is a playground of colored platforms that respond to human interaction, creating patterns and giant “pools of light” as people touch, walk and jump on them.

“The point of it,” Lewin says, “is when ["The Pool"] goes into a public space — you step on these platforms, enter into this pool of light and you have this really wonderful experience … You see people taking pictures of themselves. You see them laughing, playing with their friends and you see them connecting. And this is in a park that would be a lovely park [on its own], but now there’s this incredible, dynamic, wonderful community experience.”

Visitors to an exhibition of Levin's "The Pool." (Photo: Jen Levin Studios)

Visitors to an exhibition of Lewin’s “The Pool.” (Photo: Jen Lewin Studios)

A canine visitor to an exhibition of Levin's "The Pool." (Photo: Jen Levin Studios)

A canine visitor to an exhibition of Lewin’s “The Pool.” (Photo: Jen Levin Studios)

“We’ve worked hard to create work like this that can really be interacted with and really be in the public space,” she says. “Whether it’s dancing … composing music … diving in and playing in a huge pool of light … as we say in my studio, please touch the art.”

Watch Lewin’s whole talk below:

Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:

The speaker is an artist who gives an engaging look into both her art and her medium — interactive sculpture. Her idea — that art can inspire not only human interaction, but also human collaboration and revival of public space — is supported by reception to her pieces and through stunning documentation of the pieces themselves. The talk is direct, succinct and full of striking visuals.

1 Comment

  1. Mary Jurisons

    I want her art to come to Portland, OR! I love the circle of interactive lights and the laser harp! Fascinating! I could just imagine what my music students would do with these projects!

Leave a Reply

Your email address and name are required fields marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>