About Jenn Figg
Hot sculpted glass, steel, wire, 3D printed plastic, LEDs, custom software, weather sensor2017 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.
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.
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
Night Magic and Aurora Borealis
Night Magic and Aurora Borealis, 2013 - 2015.
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.
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.
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.
Mixed Media: plastic, paint, steel, paperboard, salt.
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.
Invasive Glass Botanicals
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.
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.
Jenn Figg's Curated Collection
This artist has not yet created a curated collection.