23,040 LED lights now adorn the ceiling of the Weston Centre‘s River Walk entrance. When his project is complete, the “field of stars,” as artist Stuart Allen calls it, will mirror the exact color of the sky at any given moment.
“If it’s sunset outside and the daylight is really warm, then the piece is going to read more warm, more amber,” Allen said. “If a cloud goes over (the sky), then the piece will go cool until the cloud passes and then it will return to neutral (tones).”
Allen, a local artist who has created pieces such as the colorful steel-framed mesh installations under the McCullough and Brooklyn Avenue underpasses along the Riverwalk, began working on the light installation in September. Although the piece is installed and can now be viewed by the public, it will not be complete until the end of the month, when Allen and his team finish linking the lights to the roof sensor that reads the color of the daylight. The piece currently shines with a static white and yellow glow.
The base of the structure, which hangs from the ceiling directly above the Centre’s atrium, is an 11.5 by 11.5-foot stainless steal grid with 576 strands of 40 LED lights hanging from its frame.
When the installation is complete, a sensor on the roof of the Weston Centre will read the color temperature of the daylight every few seconds and feed that information into a microprocessor on the building’s first floor. That data will then determine how much power is sent into either the warm or cool channel connected to the amber and blue lights. The color produced will reflect the shade of the daylight at any given moment, thus linking the indoor installation to the outside world.
Allen’s hope is that his piece will brighten the days of the people who walk through or work inside the Weston Centre. But more than that, he wants the piece to make people think about their position on the planet.
“We are all so dialed in inside our workplaces. We live on the grid, if you will,” he said. “Everybody is tied into their streams and we don’t deal with the sky very much, so I am hoping for those people who choose to engage with the piece on a deeper level, it will get them to stop and consider the sky. That is kind of the whole point – to give people an opportunity to consider a natural phenomenon.”
Allen said he was inspired by circadian rhythms and recent research that shows that sleep patterns are dictated not only by the brightness of surrounding light, but also by its color. For example, the warming of light, which we experience during sunset, triggers the human desire to shut down at the end of the day.
The mechanics and multi-layered meaning of the piece will be explained on a nearby plaque.
In March, Graham Weston, Weston Centre owner and namesake, also commissioned artist Dixie Friend Gay to create a 12 by 60-foot mosaic mural in the building’s lobby titled The San Antonio River. Weston is pleased with the outcome of Allen’s piece, which he also commissioned.
“Allen is one of San Antonio’s best artists,” Weston stated in an email. “His work is displayed around the country. We’re excited to have one of his best pieces adorn our lobby.”
Top image: Artist Stuart Allen works on his light installation inside the Weston Centre. The piece will be completed by the end of the month. Photo courtesy of Stuart Allen.