The Aurora

The Aurora by Jen Lewin
The Aurora by Jen Lewin

The Aurora – 2021

Client: Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and the Airport Foundation MSP
Location

An interactive experience that changes color with the weather, and animates based on your motions below

Existing at the intersection of art and technology, THE AURORA is a 29-foot-tall, 720-pound experiential sculpture in which both human interaction and weather factors create swirling patterns of color and light. The title of Lewin’s work references the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights—naturally occurring light phenomena that are visible in the northern sky during fall and winter months. Inspired by the beauty and complexity of these organic light forms, Lewin programmed her work to change color based on the weather in Minneapolis. Below THE AURORA are eight platforms that respond to touch, encouraging visitors to actively participate in an ever-changing composition. Uniting nature, humanity, and technology, Lewin’s work underscores the dynamic interactions between people and environment.

THE AURORA features hundreds of color palettes with over 10,000 interactive LEDs that are programmed to reflect the seasons and live weather conditions in Minneapolis. The artwork consists of 23,000 aluminum rings formed into a wispy, honeycomb-like structure that evokes the solar wind patterns that create the Aurora Borealis in real life. 2,667 hand-blown glass bulbs are attached to the structure, each with three light-emitting diodes inside.

THE AURORA was completed in 2021 and was jointly commissioned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and the Airport Foundation MSP. A 16-member Blue Ribbon Artist Selection Panel chose Lewin for the project because of her extensive experience creating new media and interactive sculptures for public use and enjoyment.


The Last Ocean

The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.
The Last Ocean, by Jen Lewin 2022. Concept Rendering.

The Last Ocean: 2022

Jen Lewin Studio is excited to announce our newest work, THE LAST OCEAN; an expansive landscape of interactive platforms created from reclaimed ocean plastic, evocative of a luminescent ice field composed of beautiful geometric tessellations. This is a work that not only seeks to inspire and educate, but also – through the use of reclaimed ocean plastic – to impact the recovery of our oceans and our planet.

THE LAST OCEAN, created by American contemporary artist, Jen Lewin, explores the crisis of plastic pollution in our oceans, a warming planet, dwindling natural resources, and the need for aggressive systemic change. How do we address and mitigate the issues our planet faces as a global community?

Lewin’s previous work combines the beauty of the natural world alongside the transformative possibilities of human interactivity and the power of technology, creating community through connection. The Last Ocean aims to expand on this body of work, encapsulating the expansive uniqueness of our oceans, and the fragility of these immense bodies of water. Composed of over 250 interactive platforms and created from reclaimed and recycled ocean plastic, The Last Ocean is an immersive experience created using Lewin’s unique in-house mesh network LED technology.

During the day, the platforms of The Last Ocean will highlight the transformation of reclaimed ocean plastic with a swirled surface of blue and white particulate

At night, The Last Ocean will glow with vibrant animated light, cycling through a diverse palette of carefully curated colors as visitors interact with the work. Participants will splash and dance in waves of light, illuminating the organic and powerful nature of our oceans. 

Each installation of The Last Ocean will be unique, with site specific installations slowly dissipating as the piece is exhibited, conveying the idea of this fragile ecosystem deteriorating over time.

The Last Ocean will premiere at Burning Man 2022, as part of the Burning Man Honoraria.

Over the course of our journey making the Last Ocean become a reality, we discovered the numerous hurdles blocking greater adoption of utilizing waste plastic in industry. Sadly, few US plastic manufacturers were open to even discussing the use of mixed, reclaimed, recycled, or ocean plastic in their manufacturing processes. 

Ocean Plastic Technology

Jen Lewin Studio began working with OPT in 2021 after being told by US plastic manufacturers across the board that commercial plastic fabrication methods with reclaimed or recycled ocean plastic were not feasible. Questioning this response, our team scoured the world and found Ocean Plastic Technologies, a South African based company that has developed and is delivering a circular economy for ocean, ocean-bound and post-consumer plastics.

Since 2016 OPT has been actively working to re-engineer the circular plastic economy by finding ways to recycle and repurpose the recovered plastics that are already in our societies. Using proprietary technology, they are inventing, refining and promoting the use of reclaimed waste plastics in manufacturing.

OPT’s reclaimed ocean, ocean-bound, and post-consumer plastics is part or fully processed at source so that it can re-enter the supply change where it’s manufactured into new products. From injection moulding to extrusion to blow moulding and casting, OPT is proving that the potential for products made from repurposed ocean plastic are unlimited. And if any of these products reach end-of-life, they can be returned to OPT where they are recycled into new products again and again, just another way that OPT is delivering a truly circular economy.

From the kitchen table of Marjorie Rice

The Last Ocean’s shape and form is directly inspired by the Type 9 pentagonal tiling discovered by artist and mathematician Marjorie Rice. At the time of her discovery there were only 9 known pentagonal tilings discovered by mathematicians Karl Reinhardt, R. B. Kershner, and Richard James between 1918-1975.

Marjorie Rice, Tessellation 9 Pentagon, Last Ocean by Jen Lewin

In 1976, with no training in geometry beyond a general math course in highschool, the 52 year old Californian homemaker discovered 4 pentagonal tilings over the course of 2 years, after reading a puzzle column on the tessellations in the Scientific American Magazine. Employing an elaborate symbolic system and hand-sketched studies, RIce worked on her investigations discovering these four new tessellating convex pentagons and nearly 60 additional never before seen tessellations, all in the spare moments she had alone at home when her husband and 5 children were at work and school.

Since her discoveries, there was one pentagonal tiling discovered in 1985 by Rolf Stein and the last pentagonal tiling was discovered in 2015 using computer algorithms (Mann/McLoud/Von Derau). To date there are only 15 total pentagonal tilings of the plane, confirmed complete in 2017 by Michaël Rao. But for the initial discovery by Karl Reinhardt, Marjorie Rice’s pentagons make up the largest set of these tilings. The interactive platforms used to create The Last Ocean will be in the shape of Rices Pentagonal Tiling “Type #9”.

Pentagonal Tessellation Types

The Last Ocean will be complete in the summer of 2022. The work is designed specifically to facilitate outdoor, temporary exhibitions. Like all of Lewin’s outdoor work, The Last Ocean will install in 1-2 days, and will only require access to power. No main system computer is required to drive the work. For more information regarding future exhibition’s of The Last Ocean please reach out to Jen Lewin Studio. 

Grants, Awards & exhibits

GRANTS & AWARDS
2022 Black Rock City Honorarium

EXHIBITIONS
2022 Black Rock City, Burning Man


Edison Drops


EDISON DROPS, 2021-Present

Interactive motion-sensing sculptures that ripple light as participants move underneath the work

The Edison Drops are the newest work in Jen Lewin’s Edison series, a group of works that merge contemporary LED technology and interactivity with the historical incandescent lightbulb invented by Thomas Edison. In 2012, Edison bulbs ceased to be produced in the USA, prompting Lewin to begin this series using hand-blown glass bulbs custom designed to use LED light. Evoking ripples in water, the Edison Drops are a cluster of three orbs that utilize low-voltage lasers that bounce from the sculpture to the ground, sensing the distance between people below and the work. As the participant moves beneath them, they can effectively shoot ripples of light upward into the work, depending on how close they get to the sensor. The Edison Drops are created using an aluminum framework of rings, which is shaped by the original mold used to create The Pool (2008), a work that was developed specifically with Burning Man in mind.


JLS-Final Template – No slideshow, stacked images, Text ON Left

The Aurora – 2021

Existing at the intersection of art and technology, The Aurora is a 29-foot-tall, 720-pound experiential sculpture in which both human interaction and weather factors create swirling patterns of color and light. The title of Lewin’s work references the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights—naturally occurring light phenomena that are visible in the northern sky during fall and winter months. Inspired by the beauty and complexity of these organic light forms, Lewin programmed her work to change color based on the weather in Minneapolis. Below The Aurora are eight platforms that respond to touch, encouraging visitors to actively participate in an ever-changing composition. Uniting nature, humanity, and technology, Lewin’s work underscores the dynamic interactions between people and environment.

The Aurora was completed in 2021 and was jointly commissioned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and the Airport Foundation MSP. A 16-member Blue Ribbon Artist Selection Panel chose Lewin for the project because of her extensive experience creating new media and interactive sculptures for public use and enjoyment.


JLS-Final Template – No slideshow, stacked images, Text ON Right

The Aurora – 2021

Existing at the intersection of art and technology, The Aurora is a 29-foot-tall, 720-pound experiential sculpture in which both human interaction and weather factors create swirling patterns of color and light. The title of Lewin’s work references the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights—naturally occurring light phenomena that are visible in the northern sky during fall and winter months. Inspired by the beauty and complexity of these organic light forms, Lewin programmed her work to change color based on the weather in Minneapolis. Below The Aurora are eight platforms that respond to touch, encouraging visitors to actively participate in an ever-changing composition. Uniting nature, humanity, and technology, Lewin’s work underscores the dynamic interactions between people and environment.

The Aurora was completed in 2021 and was jointly commissioned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and the Airport Foundation MSP. A 16-member Blue Ribbon Artist Selection Panel chose Lewin for the project because of her extensive experience creating new media and interactive sculptures for public use and enjoyment.


© Copyright Jen Lewin Studio, all rights reserved.    

© Copyright Jen Lewin Studio, all rights reserved.