Firmament is a 52’ diameter canopy of 21,600 LED modules, suspended 15’ overhead by a 42’ tall tower. The LEDs are arranged in the shape of a 6-pointed star. A computer controls the color and brightness of each LED, creating a vast animated video screen with a triangular grid. The displayed scenes range from majestic celestial images to playful animations to mind-stretching psychedelia.
Six 10’ tall towers, called “pylons” surround the main tower and hold the points of the star in place. The computer plays classical music through high-quality speakers in each pylon at gentle but immersive volume. A sequence of visual scenes is chosen for each piece that highlights particular moments or transitions. The audio and animated images combine to create an inviting, surrounding, comfortable, convivial space. Ideally, Firmament is installed on grass
so that visitors can sit or lie down as they gaze up into the canopy.
The computer program that controls the piece is LED Lab an iPad app that allows any image or video file to be used in creating animations. (City/country-specific imagery can be integrated into the performance.) This app is available on the Apple iTunes Store
Firmament has been installed at Burning Man 2015-2017 and several other festivals and events. In every case, it has served as a place to be, an island of calm
. It has been given many nicknames, but perhaps the most fun is “Permanent”, as in you can’t get your friends to get up and leave.
Firmament was installed in Houston’s Discovery Green
for a 6-week run in November of 2016. It was wonderful to see non-Burning Man, non-music festival folks interact with it. Americans for the Arts named this installation one of the Best 50 Pieces of Public Art for 2016