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, 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 on a team with a programmer, welder and producer, we by 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 audiences communicated with 5 invisible spirits living inside the tree. ​

web interface for the Eyes project
site installation day

The eyes excited imaginations.


It served as a popular feature for public gathering. It was so successful it ran again in the Artisphere Museum in Rosslyn, VA

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


The Public Displays of Innovation exhibit, won a Merit Award from the 2015 International Downtown Association.

How It Worked

As the audiences approached the lights, they were directed by graphics 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 all of the eye sculptures and "emote" back with colorful visual communication. The ongoing Q&A style conversation between the user and the tree revealed the story of each soul that was awakened and created 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, The Grump. Each distinct personality was designed with it's own visual representation and circadian rhythm. 

Halloween Market Flier.png
Eyes in tree close up.png