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 Ballston Public Displays of Innovation
The Forest of Knowledge

The Ballston Public Display of Innovation exhibition was initiated to activate Ballston's underused public spaces artistically. As the designer for this project, I invited the public to linger in the pass-through park and experience far more than just what was seen on the surface.

I wanted to bring color, light, and conversation to the space. Together with a programmer, welder, and producer, our team designed, fabricated, integrated, and installed 16 sculptural eyes fit with programmable LED's into the foliage of a tree at the center of the park. The sculptural eyes displayed colorful light patterns as the audience communicated with five invisible spirits inside the tree. ​

web interface for the Eyes project
site installation day

The Eyes excited imaginations!


The Eyes served as a popular feature for public gatherings. It was so successful that it ran again in the Artisphere Museum in Rosslyn, VA. And The Public Displays of Innovation exhibit won an International Merit Award from the International Downtown Association.

The eyes were a collaboration by the Illumination Coalition consisting of myself (writer, designer), Bardia Jaan (producer), Adam Eig (welder), and Branden Hall (developer).


How It Worked

As the audience approached the lights, signage directed them to visit a unique "Eyes" mobile site on their personal devices. Once there, they would respond to prompts from the tree.


Upon submitting an answer, the eyes would wake a particular spirit who would take over some of the eye sculptures and "emote" with colorful visual communication.


Depending on personalities and amount of people engaging, up to 5 souls could be awake at once- The Flirt, The Baby, The Elder, The Raver, and The Grump. Each distinct personality was designed with its own visual representation and circadian rhythm. 

The ongoing Q&A conversation between the user and the tree revealed the story of each soul that was awakened. The experience created an emotional connection between the person and the tree.  

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Eyes in tree close up.png
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