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About Jenn Figg

Baltimore City

Our work analyzes, critiques and complicates the interconnections between ecology, science, industry, and identity, drawing contextually from spaces, environments, technologies, and histories (both real and imagined). The linking element between these discourses is energy transformation, as a physical and aesthetic matter, as well as an evolving conceptual force through which to address pressing urban and ecological issues. Our work explores energy as a resource, as a capitalized commodity, and as a... more

Transference

2017 Hot sculpted and blown glass, steel, wire, LEDs, custom software, hardware 14’ from ceiling x 11’ wide x 8’ deep Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University Transference gives sculptural form to the transmission of knowledge and energy. The suspended glass sculpture is a permanent installation at the Rutgers School of Pharmacy, and is inspired by their mission of education, healing, and generosity, ideas which provide conceptual underpinning for the sculpture's flow and visual rhythm. At night the sculpture comes alive with gently fading light patterns inspired by energy pathways for growth, healing, and compassion. The concept of "energy flow" is at the core of Transference . The flow of orbs twists asymmetrically alongside the main spiral, weaving into the larger gesture of curvilinear forms. The handmade optical glass elements are featured as a large, flowing spiral within the 8' deep dimensional space. The layout of the linear elements supports a range of flowing, dynamic light within the spiral and the orbs.

Convergence

Hot sculpted glass, steel, wire, 3D printed plastic, LEDs, custom software, weather sensor

2017 Convergence draws from the building’s environment and the advanced digital & technology development within the UATC. The optical glass elements light up in real time, mapping the wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity. Informed by both the surroundings of tangled vines and the Alleghany, the sculpture flows from chaos to an ordered eddy of lines. Each of the 700 pieces of hand made glass glass pieces features an individually controlled LED on a custom circuit board assembly. A Linux computer and Raspberry Pi running a Java application interface the weather station sensors with the lights. Convergence is a dynamic weather visualizer. The wind direction and speed are visualized across the sculpture. As the strength of the wind increases, the band of light moving across the sculpture brightens and becomes wider. The wind direction relates to the position on the sculpture where the light wave begins. Humidity and temperature are visualized by the color and pulse rate of the spyglass elements. Aridity is represented by red and high humidity by blue. Varying shades of purple indicate the relative amount of moisture in the air. Temperature is visualized by the pulse rate of the spyglasses using Dolbear’s law. His 1897 equation established the relationship between air temperature and the rate of a tree cricket’s chip. The quicker the pulse or visual “chirp”, the warmer the temperature. The simplified and rounded versions of the equation can be used to quickly calculate the outdoor temperature: Temperature °F = 40 + Number of chirps in 15 seconds Temperature °C = 5 + Number of chirps in 8 seconds

Kinetic Light Instruments and their traces

Real-time visualization of energy is a driving theme in our collaborative research project, Human Interaction, Energy Harvesting, and Lumia. We are inspired by László Moholy-Nagy’s light play, specifically, Lichtspiele, that creates “a light-space-time continuity in the synthesis of motion.” Our Kinetic Light Instruments function similarly and are a futuristic extension of these fundamental ideas with the added focus of human energy harvesting. These techno-cultural reimagined objects are inspired by traditional instruments, including seed shakers and rainsticks. In the shakers and rattles, we construct unique piezo wiring harnesses to demonstrate complex energy relationships. Kinetic Light Instruments are interactive, sensorial sculptures that connect performers and audiences in a new way with human generated light by merging the materials of light and sound, directly connecting these phenomena with movements of the body.

We create instruments and objects that harness human-generated kinetic energy to sustain connection, communication, and creativity, as conduits for participants to project their own energy out as light. This real time visualization of energy is a reminder of the power we each possess to create positive change and beauty in the world.

Luminescent Anthologies is continuation of our research in designing, building, and documenting human powered light sculptures. The work features kinetic light sculptures accompanied by a series of long-exposure photographs of the instruments in motion. The photos and sculptures are symbiotic, highlighting the sculpture’s dependence on human interaction for activation.

  • Satellite Skaker

    Kinetic light instruments
    3D printed parts, LEDs, piezos, hardware 2017 Edition of 3
  • Rainstick

    Rainstick kinetic light instrument
    3D printed parts, piezos, LEDs, hardware 2017 Edition of 1
  • Piezo Powered IR Shaker

    When shaken, this instrument generates power for an infrared LED with a piezo energy harvesting cube. An small camera with an infrared filter captures the light.
  • Seed Shakers

    Inspired by traditional seed instrument, these 3D printed shakers generate bright light when played. Energy is harvested by the percussive actions, lighting up LEDs.
  • Seed Shakers

    Kinetic Light Instruments: Seed Shakers
    Seed Shaker Kinetic Light Instruments 3D printed plastic, LEDs, Piezos, String 2017 Edition of 3
  • Kickball

    Energy harvesting cubes power up LEDs with every bounce and roll in this flexible 3D printed flower ball.
  • Luminescent Anthologies 5

    2014 Framed Digital Archival Print, 36" x 48" The big dipper is visible in the luminous, dusky purple night sky above the reflected light pollution of Baltimore. A river of light is generated by the kinetic light rake sculpture. As the rake is dragged along a rural road, the piezo elements power a linear series of LED lights. A 30 second exposure captures the traces of movement as the rake follows the uneven surface of the pavement.
  • Luminescent Anthologies 2

    2014 Framed Archival Digital Print, 36” x 48” A ring of light evoking a galaxy was created by sweeping in a quick circular motion with the kinetic light rake sculpture. The Rake is swept in a gestural semi-circle. As the rake caught and bounced upon the ripples and pebbles in the road bed, more intense points of light were captured in the image.
  • Shekere

    2014 Printed PLA plastic, bearings, piezo elements, LEDs A sculptural reimagining of a traditional gourd instrument with the addition of human generated light. As this rattle is shaken, small bearings impact piezo elements which convert the vibrations to electricity that powers leds. The light is diffused by the translucent printed plastic. The Shekere is a indirect percussive instrument, informed by historical shekeres made from gourds, string, and beads.
  • Luminescent Anthologies 1

    2014 Framed Archival Digital Print, 36” x 48” In this image, human energy is transformed into light via technology, imagined as speculative future ritual and ceremony. The glow from the shaken Shekere instrument illuminates the profile of Matthew’s face, reinforcing the interrelated concepts of mysticism, spirit, and creation in the work.

Sea Grass & Community Beacons: Making Waves: Light City 2016

Sea Grass, 2016

12' from ceiling x 80' long x 35' wide

Kiln formed glass, steel, wire, milled polycarbonate.

Site-Specific Permanent Installation in the Baltimore Visitor Center

Inspired by the aquatic grasses of the Chesapeake Bay, the sculpture takes the form of eelgrass as if it swayed with the tides. Always in motion, the glass moves with subtle air currents and reflects light upon the ceiling in dynamic displays during the day.

Sub-aquatic vegetation can be found in the shallow intertidal waters and is a critical part of a healthy Bay ecosystem. The grasses are part of a fragile environment that provides wildlife like the Blue Crab with food and habitat, adds oxygen to the water, absorbs nutrient pollution, traps sediment and reduces erosion. A healthy Chesapeake and Inner Harbor vibrant with the arts are cultural identifiers and supports a healthy Baltimore community, one that is in a symbiotic relationship with the Harbor.

-AND-

Community Beacons: Making Waves
Kinetic Frenetic (A Collaboration with Jenn Figg, Matthew McCormack, and David Fakunle)

Performers include David Fakunle, Duane Hinton, Jahi Jelani, Brova Tobias, Jabari Jefferson,
Themba Sipho Mkhatshwa, Frank Holliday, Charles Watson, and Zakiya Jefferson.

Community Beacons: Making Waves was a community-based and community-driven participatory percussion project fusing the combined forces of sound and light to activate individuals' energies toward positive social transformation. Making Waves was a marriage of ancient tradition and innovative technology using performance and custom kinetic instruments that illuminated a local landmark - the Baltimore Visitor Center - with waves of dynamic light.

With percussive sounds unique to Baltimore, performers played a blend of traditional African rhythms in combination with beats popularized in Baltimore's clubs. Organized performances dovetailed with facilitated interaction throughout each night.

The light of the drums was amplified by the newly installed LED lights in the Visitor Center, creating a wave of light within the building in response to drumming. In this way, the instrument sculptures were illuminated directly from human power, while the Visitor Center became a dynamic jewel of light, lit from within.

We are inspired to create instruments that harness human-generated kinetic energy to sustain connection, communication, and creativity, and see the light drums as powerful objects that encourage participants to project their own energy out as light. This real time visualization of energy is a reminder of the power we each possess to create positive change and beauty in the world.

The strength of kinetic light performance is the visual confirmation of our individual power.

This series of instruments were created in the spirit of Afrofuturism: 3D printed djembe bodies with rope tuned, traditional animal skin heads. Custom transducers generate energy from performance, leveraging the potentials of music, analog technology, and audience participation in a celebration of energy transformation. Community Beacons are an investigation of energy storage and transformation, and of synesthesia, where sound becomes light, and light becomes sound.

Thank you to Baba Baile, Scott Caine, BOPA, and Visit Baltimore for all their support throughout this project.

small studies and videos

  • Windmill Triptych

    Inspired by the aesthetic of full scale wind turbines, this piece explores energy, power, and the alternating phases of awe and terror turbines invoke.
  • Music for Wood in plastic

    Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood (1973) Towson University Percussion Ensemble 2015 Director: Michelle Humphreys Performers: Casey Isanogle, Sarah Dickerson, Dan Puziss, Moy Dumadag, Joe Dennis Kinetic Light Instruments 2010 - 2015
  • Light Drum Amplifier

    2016 Jimi Hendrix said he was nothing without his Marshall stacks. This array of CRT's is an amplifier for our 3D printed djembe light drum. Powered by the TVout library running on Arduino with a video amplifier. Thank you to Signal Culture!
  • Blue Light District

    Blue Light District
    2012 Blue Light District is inspired by Baltimore's blinking blue light surveillance cameras that run 24 hours a day. This stand of blue safety lights iare a constructed ecosystem that satirizes the divisive, penetrating blue flashing lights of Baltimore City. This piece is based on the P.O.D.S.S. project in Baltimore, Maryland. The acronym stands for Portable Overt Digital Surveillance System, of which there were at least 86 within Baltimore City. Originally installed in the city at Pennsylvania Avenue and Laurens Street in 2005, the cameras were intended to deter crime.
  • Invasive Ecologies (Spiraling Corn Production)

    Spiraling Corn Production
    Invasive Ecologies (Spiraling Corn Production), 2015 Paper, ink, adhesive 15” x 9” diameter Spiraling Corn Production stemmed from a desire to visualize the rampant upward spiral of both US corn production and population, representing exactly 150 years of data, plotted every two years. Data is vertically extruded, spiraling counterclockwise around an invisible center point. The vertical walls of the spiral represent the United States’ population growth as documented for the years 1866 through 2014, and projected to 2016, marked in increments of 15 million per every vertical row.
  • Invasive Ecologies (High-Fructose Towers)

    Invasive Ecologies (High-Fructose Towers), 2015 Paper, ink, adhesive 14” x 16” x 8” High-Fructose Towers represent a very small slice of data from three non-consecutive years. Rather than representing a series of annualized datasets, the sculpture shows a comparative relationship amongst US population, corn sweetener production and individual consumption of said sweetener. Three towers stand vertically from the flat surface, with separate forms moving up the tower architecture like vines. Each of the impossibly high towers are stabilized with guy lines that cross over one another.
  • Invasive Ecologies (Biotech Silo)

    Invasive Ecologies (Biotech Silo), 2015 Paper, ink, adhesive 16" tall x 5" diameter Biotech Silo plots fifteen consecutive years of data pertaining to the pervasive use genetically modified corn seed for production. The sculpture is in the form of a raised agricultural grain storage silo, an element ubiquitous with large-scale agribusiness farming. Architectural complexity achieves a stratified interior and exterior cylinder.
  • Abandoned on County Road 80

    Abandoned on County Road 80
    2013 Steel, paint 23" x 15" x 12"
  • Air Drop Transport

    Air Drop Transport
    2013 Plasma Cut Steel, Paint, Wire

Night Magic and Aurora Borealis

Night Magic and Aurora Borealis, 2013 - 2015.
Site-Specific Installation
Winter Light Garden and Flower Show, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, Pittsburgh, PA

We are fascinated by the beneficial and malevolent forces in our natural world. Rapid globalization and climate change contribute to the transference of species into environments where their population can explode unchecked, wherein a beautiful flower may grow rampant in another place, thus transforming it into a rampant weed. An unusual mushroom or flower may lead to unpleasant or euphoric states. Nature simultaneously overgrows our structures while we build, outpacing our obsolescence. These glass installations combine the raw power of energy- both human energy and the physical energy of heat to transform molten material into homages to dynamic plant species.

Night Magic:
The evening rhythm and atmosphere of the Phipps Conservatory, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania inspires Night Magic. Glass houses are a protected world in contrast to the urban landscape found outside its walls. We imagined witnessing the Aurora Borealis peeking through the leafy foliage of the Conservatory’s trees. The installation begins with gently glowing glass botanicals nestled in the planting spaces.

Night Magic is a time-based, unfolding, immersive visual recreation of the night sky featuring illuminated glass sculptures. Underneath this shifting night sky, nestled among the living plants and trees, are hundreds of glass botanicals specific to each room in the West Wing of the Conservatory.

  • Night Magic

    Exterior View of Aurora Borealis Programmed Lighting Installation Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Night Magic

    Night Magic: Aurora Borealis and Mushroom Forest, 2013 Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA RGB LEDs, Custom Programming, Handblown glass The glass botanicals were installed in 5 different rooms, each installation area varying in scale. As pictured: 60’ long, 20’ wide, 36” tall. Glass houses are a protected world in contrast to the urban landscape found outside its walls, a place wherein unusual and protected species can thrive. In this alternate universe Psilocybin mushrooms are a celebrated part of our ecology.
  • Night Magic

    Night Magic: Aurora Borealis and Mushroom Forest, 2013 Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA RGB LEDs, Custom Programming, Handblown glass The glass botanicals were installed in 5 different rooms, each installation area varying in scale. As pictured: 60’ long, 20’ wide, 36” tall. Glass houses are a protected world in contrast to the urban landscape found outside its walls, a place wherein unusual and protected species can thrive. In this alternate universe Psilocybin mushrooms are a celebrated part of our ecology.
  • Night Magic, Neurons (detail)

    Neuron Constellation Dimensions Variable Glass, Steel, LEDs Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Night Magic, Tillandsia

    Tillandsia (day view) Dimensions Variable Glass, Steel, LEDs Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Night Magic, Tillandsia

    Tillandsia (night view) Dimensions Variable Glass, Steel, LEDs Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Night Magic, Fern

    Ferns Dimensions Variable Glass, Steel, LEDs Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Night Magic, Fern

    Ferns Dimensions Variable Glass, Steel, LEDs Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Night Magic, Swiss Cheese Monstera

    Swiss Cheese Leaves Dimensions Variable Cast Glass, Steel, LEDs Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA

Labyrinth

The legendary Greek, Daedalus, built for King Minos a curving labyrinth to contain the beastly minotaur. Today, the spiraling labyrinth is symbolic of a journey and a confrontation, the individual returning with new-found knowledge. Our Labyrinth is a pastoral nighttime environment for wandering and discovery, set in late summer 1950 in rural Ohio.

The solstice moon reveals a backyard labyrinth through shadowy trees and twilight sky. Within the labyrinth, pathways lead to a glass menagerie of flowers, fruits, seed pods, beetles, snails and horses. Neighbors sleep to the sound of crickets and dream of space exploration, oil rigs and agriculture. Meanwhile the lattice, twisting and collapsing at its periphery, is a reminder of the natural decay of idyllic suburban life.

  • Labyrinth

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI
  • Labyrinth

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI
  • Labyrinth

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI
  • Labyrinth

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI
  • Labyrinth

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI
  • Labyrinth

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI Glass menagerie includes (clockwise, from top left): psilocybin mushroom, poppy bud, prancing pony, dove, snail
  • Labyrinth, detail

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI Glass menagerie includes (clockwise, from top left): angry vag, weed bud, dildo, crab claw with pussy
  • Labyrinth, drawing

    2010 Paper, projection, sound, wood, glass dimensions variable Installation at Rankin Gallery, Ferris State University, MI Drawing concept for the installation

Strata Extraction

Dimensions Variable
Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
2014

On Mars, the blowing winds twirl red dust up from the surface.
Without an atmosphere, the crimson spirals soon bleach white.
The planet’s core cooled too quickly– the only sign of life,
Our rovers, extracting salt and sand from icy layers.

We are moved by the passion of the researchers and engineers who collaborate to study Mars’ massive and distant landscape grain by grain. Strata Extraction is a homage to the imagination and vision of people and the pursuit of technological perfection.

Elements of the sculpture include: a capillary array from a DNA analyzer; a series of stratified and topographic “transverse aeolian ridges” called TARs from the Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars; and the Curiosity Rover.

This site specific work was created for “Back to Earth” exhibition at the Q Gallery in the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins University.

  • Strata Extraction

    2014 Dimensions Variable Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
  • Strata Extraction

    2014 Dimensions Variable Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
  • Strata Extracton

    2014 Dimensions Variable Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
  • Strata Extraction

    2014 Dimensions Variable Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
  • Strata Extraction

    2014 Dimensions Variable Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
  • Strata Extraction

    2014 Dimensions Variable Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
  • Strata Extraction

    2014 Dimensions Variable Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.

Invasive Glass Botanicals

Passiflora Incarnata:
The passionflower is a beautiful symbol of the tenacity and duality of nature. There are many species of passionflower in the world that have adapted and found homeostasis with the environment. However, when the passionflower, especially the passiflora incarnata variety, is taken from it’s adapted home, the flowering vine can easily overtake other plants and choke off competition, acting like other notable invasives like Kudzu and Japanese Honeysuckle. In contrast to this noxious aspect of its growth, the passion flower has long been recognized for its beneficial medicinal properties. Humans have a history of using its roots and leaves as a relaxing agent for pain, asthma and anxiety.

Passiflora Incarnata is a larger than life interpretation of these compelling complexities while interacting with the Phipp’s Palm Court. The sculpture features representations of the plant lifecycle, including radiating leaves sprouting from delicate vines, dozens of buds and flowers in all stages of growth, opening, full bloom and wilt. The flowers give way to the green, oblong fruits that slowly turn a burnt orange. The glass is supported upon a steel structure informed by the architecture of the conservatory.

Datura:
The Himalayan biosphere in the Franklin Park Conservatory is home to many wildly beautiful, toxic and invasive species. One such toxic species is the medicinal and mythological Datura plant.

The Datura, a member of the nightshade family, holds many common names because of its intoxicating beauty: moon flower, angel's trumpet and devil's weed. The night blooming, invasive plant has adapted to every environment including the Himalayas. All parts of the plant contain alkaloids that have a long, colorful history, used as medicines, poisons and hallucinogens. Our sculpture features oversize leaves, flowers, and pods, in permutations from bloom to decay.

  • Passiflora Incarnata

    2013 Blown glass, steel, paint Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Passiflora Incarnata

    detail 2013 Blown glass, steel, paint Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Passiflora Incarnata

    detail 2013 Blown glass, steel, paint Site-Specific Installation at the Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Passiflora Incarnata

    2013 concept drawing
  • Datura

    2010 Blown glass, steel, paint Site-Specific Installation at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, OH
  • Datura

    2010 Blown glass, steel, paint Site-Specific Installation at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, OH
  • Datura

    2010 Blown glass, steel, paint Site-Specific Installation at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, OH
  • Datura

    2010 Blown glass, steel, paint Site-Specific Installation at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, OH
  • Datura

    concept drawing

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