In 2008 New Mexico Arts State agency commissioned artist Federico Muelas to create a permanent Public Art installation for the George Pearl Hall building at the University of new Mexico, which houses the New School of architecture and urban planning.
The selecting committee, formed by school dean Roger Schluntz, UNM faculty, city council members, NMA representatives, New Mexico artists and AIA architects Antoine Predock, Graham Hogan and Jon Anderson asked Federico Muelas to create a piece for the building based on his most recent body of work, that focuses on complex natural systems.
For this project Federico Muelas designed an Art piece titled “Blue Flower/ Flor Azul” that displays the image of drops of blue ink expanding in clear water on a 900 sq. foot custom made LCD screen.
A team of 30 people, including electronic and structural engineers, programmers, electricians, fabricators and volunteers worked for four years under the direction of Mr. Muelas to design, implement, fabricate and install the piece that enlivens, since September 2012, the west side facade of the building.
For this piece Federico Muelas studio fully implemented a brand new technology for large format displays based on Electro-responsive LCD film.
The 30 by 30 feet display is powered with a maximum of 9 amps, approximately the energy consumed by two and a half computers, what positions “Blue Flower” screen among the most energy efficient large format displays in the world and it is 34 times more efficient than any LED Screen in the market and at a fraction of the production cost. As requested by the commission the display obtained its UL label in 2012.
During the day the screen renders a low-resolution image of the ink via the 3,740 pixels distributed in a 70 by 70 grid that forms the circular screen. Each pixel is 5” diameter in size, being the largest single pixel ever used in a large format LCD display.
When each pixel is inactive it appears white, when turned ON, the pixel becomes a perfect reflective surface that projects whatever is in front. For example the Sky, the landscape, or the George Pearl Hall building itself. Therefore the aspect of the rendered image on the screen varies with the location of the viewer as well as with the appearance of the surroundings.
At dusk the LCD screen turns OFF becoming a blank projecting surface in which two 12,000 lumens Sanyo projectors, located on the outdoor amphitheater, broadcast the image of the ink in high definition.
“Blue Flower” also incorporates a sound element as the moving image of the ink is translated into sound in real time and locally broadcast on the site.
To accomplish the sound translation of the moving image of the ink an embedded computer lays out a matrix of sensitive nodes over the source image before it is sent to the LCD display or to the projectors.
Each node gets assigned a unique note that creates a sound when the image of the ink passes over its location.
Blue Flower/Flor Azul” attempts to create an “Imagination screen” for the University community and the visitor and to build a physical and virtual common place to share ideas and nurture dreams. It also tries to recreate the unadulterated pleasure of learning by merely experimenting with the mysterious processes of nature consequently promoting awareness, understanding and stewardship in relation to the natural world.
“I want to create in the observer an alternating range of rational reflections and spontaneous emotions including the feeling of comprehending the indecipherable and making the invisible visible” Federico Muelas.