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Ballston Public Displays
of Innovation:

The Forest of Knowledge

The Ballston Public Display of Innovation exhibition was initiated to artistically activate Ballston's underused public spaces. As the designer for this project, I invited the public to linger in the pass-through park near the metro. I wanted them to experience their surroundings in a new way. In fact, the participants might realize that the trees in the space they walked through each day, also saw them. And maybe they might have a conversation!

Eyes - Early concepts-01.png
web interface for the Eyes project
Eyes - Early concepts-01.png
Creative Strategy

I wanted to bring color, light, and conversation to the space. Together with a programmer, a welder, and a producer, we created and installed 16 sculptural eyes fit with programmable LED's into the foliage of a large tree at the center of the square. The eyes displayed colorful light patterns as the audience communicated with five invisible spirits they could awaken from inside the tree. ​

How It Worked

As the audience approached the park, signage directed them to visit the 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. The ongoing Q&A conversation between the user and the tree revealed the story of each soul that was awakened and created an emotional connection between the person and the tree.  


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. 

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The eyes excited imaginations!


The sculpture served as a popular draw for public gatherings. It was so successful that it ran again in the Artisphere Museum in Rosslyn, VA.  The Public Displays of Innovation exhibit won a 2015 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).


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