“North/East /South/West” is a series of four circular “Lens” sculptures suspended below four skylights in the International Arrivals terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport. The artwork, created by artist Ray King, is designed to reflect sunlight and project color into the shaded section of the baggage claim area where passengers must pass before clearing customs. The experience represents a physical and spiritual transition into the US.
Each of the 457 cm (15’) diameter circular stainless steel rings holds in place a tensile structure of struts and cables. Attached to the cables are laminated glass facets coated with dichroic film -- a thin-film coating developed by NASA that projects one color and reflects its opposite compliment. The color projections change constantly as the sunlight and viewer rotate around the artwork. The four sites are color-coded to represent the four cardinal directions: North: blue/ gold; East: yellow/blue, South: magenta/green, West: cyan/orange.
The four skylights were selected for their prominent visibility and glazed with clear glass to allow natural sunlight to interact with the artwork. The dichroic glass elements were positioned at angles to interact with the incoming sunlight to reflect and project spectacular colored light reflections onto the white terrazzo floor and surrounding space creating a spectacle of light to greet travelers as they arrive in the United States.
The triangular pattern of the glass array was inspired by Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the “Tetrahedral Kite,” an experiment that demonstrated a core engineering principle of aerodynamics that led to modern manned aviation as well as his collaboration with Samuel P. Langley’s early experiments with flying machines. The artwork is designed to complement the scale, volume, proportion and sunlight exposure of the terminal. The intent is to enhance the experience of welcoming visitors from all four corners of the earth.
Ray King is an artist who uses the natural phenomena of light as it interacts with glass and optics as an art medium. Integrating science and geometry, his sculptures are interactive works of art that change dynamically and inspire unique experiences. King has exhibited his work internationally since 1976, major installations of his work have been commissioned throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East.