The Pool by Jen Lewin
The Pool by Jen Lewin is an interactive environment of giant, concentric circles created from more than 100 interactive circular pads, inviting visitors to walk, dance, jump, and play with the piece. The installation allows visitors to enter a world where play and collaborative movement create swirling effects of light and color. Using mesh-network technology and custom code, visitors can activate platforms that respond to touch—encouraging participation in an ever-changing composition. Inspired by Australian tidal pools, Lewin developed technology and code to bring this experience to IC.
Location: Courtyard 1/2 at Industry City (Enter at 238 36th Street)
Hours: Open every day from 3 – 9pm
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jen Lewin is an internationally recognized new media and interactive sculptor based in Brooklyn, New York. Over her 27-year career, Lewin has honed her architectural background and a highly technical medium to fabricate large-scale, interactive, public sculptures that encourage community interaction and play. Uniting nature and technology, Lewin thinks beyond traditional media to create connected human experiences that bring vibrancy to public spaces. Existing at the intersection of art, technology, and community, her sculptures underscore the ripple effects that each individual has on their community and habitat, the energy of human connection, and the power of collective action.
Jen Lewin’s public installations have been commissioned for major festivals around the world including the Istanbul Light Festival, Vivid Sydney, Burning Man, Jerusalem Festival of Lights, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Mother of the Nation Festival in Abu Dhabi. Her work has been presented at select international fine art biennials including Mexico, Hong Kong, South Korea and Colorado. Lewin has been commissioned for permanent installations worldwide including in New York City, Arlington, Palo Alto, Minneapolis, Coral Springs and Denver. She has worked in collaboration as a dynamic lighting designer for permanent, public installations with Claes Oldenburg in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Lawrence Argent in Vail, Colorado.
- Describe the work that you do.
Over the last 27 years, I have been honing a highly technical medium to fabricate large-scale interactive, public sculpture that encourages community interaction and play. I use form, light, sound and motion to create a world of connection and magic. This is work that truly explores the reality of our current world – one where both digital and physical connections permeate every aspect of our lives. I am known for both my traveling large interactive installations, such as The Pool, Aqueous, or Reflect, but also my many permanent public artworks such as The Aurora, Helix, or SideWalk Harp.
One of the highly unusual aspects of my process is that all of the hardware, code, and technology used in my work is developed “in-house”. I believe strongly that as an artist in a medium, you need to be a master of that medium in order to truly iterate, play, and create.
- Describe this art installation.
POOL (verb): combine, amalgamate, blend, join forces, league, merge, put together, share
THE POOL is a field of concentric circles that swirl with light when activated by touch. Inspired by Australian tidal pools, I developed the technology and code in order to bring this experience around the world. Using custom mesh-network technology and custom code, visitors can activate platforms that respond to touch—encouraging participation in an ever-changing composition.
THE POOL has traveled to over sixty exhibition venues in more than twenty countries in the past fourteen years, including Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, Prague, Shanghai, Sydney, and Taipei. I have had the privilege of being able to exhibit this work, and to watch cultures all over the world engage, enjoy, and play together within the experience.
- What inspires you as an artist?
The fact that I am always learning something new.
I am always learning something new and being challenged to grow while creating new inspiring work.
The process of watching a seemingly impossible concept evolve over time, and with diligence and hard work, finally become a reality. The infrequent, but amazing feeling of bringing something to the world that can create joy and connection.
- What’s the favorite part of your job?
Honestly, I love all aspects of my job, including the very long and hard physical installations (that can span months), or the constantly challenging and frustrating complexities involved when using technology as a medium. For me, for better or for worse, my work is my life. I don’t ever plan to retire.
- How did you start as an artist?
I was always in the arts, even as a child, and performed on stage as a dancer.
I actually grew up in Maui, and I have many vivid memories there. I remember looking at lighting and lighting conditions, including natural lighting; the way the sun came through the clouds, the way the sun came through a window.
While I was actively part of the arts, I was also infatuated with science and technology and even learned to code as early as 3rd grade (in the 80s) When I went to college I wanted to mix my love of both art and science but had few options to do so (the more contemporary options for mixed media programs did not exist at the time.) I majored in Architecture, not because I wanted to practice architecture as a profession, but because it was the only program offered that truly mixed “Art and Science”. My early school-based projects integrated both fields fluidly. One of my first works was a wood-framed harp created with lasers (an early iteration of a Laser Harp.) Not only did I craft the wooden frame, but I coded and created a fully interactive laser harp system from scratch.
The works I started conceptualizing, playing with, and creating in college quickly grew into a body of more professional artwork that now spans my 27-year career.
- Piece of advice for artists out there?
Do not be afraid to forge your own path. Had I only looked at what other artists were doing, or only followed other artists’ paths, I would not be where I am. In fact, I was often told in my early days that my work was “not art” and was “purely technology”. It took hard work, perseverance, some creative out-of-the-box thinking, and certainly stubbornness for me to build the career that I have now.
The Collision Project utilizes the campus of Industry City as a diverse and flexible testing ground for artists and visionaries to collaborate and to promote exploration of the grounds. The initiative nurtures art as an experience and facilitates and activates new areas of co-creation. Submit your ideas here for a mural at IC or explore the 25+ art installations on campus here.
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