Double-sided Site-specific Projection, 2019-2020
Macroscope is a dynamic site-specific & site-responsive video installation made for the Materials Research Institute through the generous support of the Campus Arts Initiative and Penn State University’s Strategic Planning Seed Grant program.
Video credit: Amir Agharebparast
Macroscope is a merging of the Material Research Institute’s work with Encoded Object’s creative practice. Echoing the close analysis and synthesis that MRI does within the walls of its building, the piece inverts the direction of analysis and transforms the building into a “macroscope” that visualizes the MRI community. The windows above the lobby continuously record the passage of the community through the entrance to the building, feeding into an abstract colorful timelapse projection that grows in a 2D crystalline pattern reminiscent of MRI’s materials research, inspired by graphene and the concept of 2D materials. The piece reveals an unfamiliar view of a familiar space through seeing it at a different temporal scale, echoing how many of MRI’s techniques reveal hidden features by looking at materials at different scales and through different modalities.
Every 9 - 10 minutes, a new 2D hexagonal crystal forms. The piece oscillates between a “live” view, in which each hexagon’s color is drawn from the real-time camera feed at that moment it attaches to the growing crystal, and historical views, in which the hexagon’s colors are sampled from an ever-growing historical catalog of the garden view. Under certain lighting conditions (especially at night), interior reflections appear on the window within the camera’s eye - adding layers of complexity and abstraction to the projection’s imagery. Because of the way this process functions, over the course of the entire year as the piece continues to evolve, no two crystals grown will ever be the same.
Learn more about the project in the The Material Research Institute’s docuseries, “The Making of Macroscope:”