Lux Lucis, 2008


Artwork for The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Balsaliee School of International Affairs


The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Balsaliee School of International Affairs is a visionary place. At the heart of this vision is the meeting of people and ideas: the intersection of experience, knowledge and innovative thinking to find solutions to the world's challenges, to shed light on the dark issues facing humanity. Lux Lucis (Latin for light shining, bright or clear) responds to light from outside and within as a metaphor for bringing insight and clarity to these issues. The two rows of columns refer to the traditional colonnade around college courtyards while reinterpreting that tradition with materials and form that reflect the latest technology to blend a respect for the past with the dynamism of the future.

Lux Lucis responds to the vertical elements in the architecture and the transparent surfaces that allow for flow from outside to inside. Beams of light and color move across the surfaces, reflecting and penetrating the glass walls of the courtyard and into the lobbies. At times the columns almost disappear and at other times they reflect the surroundings and then with a slight shift they become luminous beacons. This elusive, ever changing presence reflects the elusive nature of the challenges that face our complex world. These problems are difficult to grasp, requiring new perspectives and vantage points much as Lux Lucis must be seen from all sides and observed with attention. The multifaceted, multi-coloured combinations and the almost endless variety in the way the light projections and reflections play around the area are metaphors for the complexity of the multifaceted world addressed by the work done at the school. The columns suggest the many individuals or entities that stand separately, but whose impact is felt beyond their boundaries. Lux Lucis is a metaphor for our interconnection and the network among individuals within a larger world community.

The artwork honours the sense of this place as a quiet sanctuary, a refuge for reflection, by subtly existing mostly as light rather than being perceived as objects with weight and mass. Lux Lucis suggests a 'light touch' on the planet both visually and literally. Glass is a 'green' material and the LED lighting uses very little electricity. The light is directed down, not contributing to light pollution at night. A light sensor turns on the evening lighting so that no electricity is wasted when the lights would not be seen.

The work changes with the movement of the sun during the day and time of year. But sometimes the dichroic glass is most beautiful in low light and cloudy conditions as it subtly pulls existing light into itself and quietly glows. LED lighting programs are triggered when there is very low light creating a different type of luminosity. The columns are lighted beacons, sentinels for the work that never stops somewhere around the world.

A key component of Lux Lucis is the way that visitors to the courtyard can interact with the work to change how it plays with the light. With a touch of the hand, the columns turn so the colors can be shifted and the lines of light moved in new directions. Everything about CIGI is dynamic and about response and initiative and Lux Lucis reflects both the sensitivity and dynamism.

Two existing design elements in the courtyard and architectural design inspired Lux Lucis: the illuminated slender vertical columns supporting the overhanging roofs and the crossing pathways in the courtyard. The crossing pathways are a meeting moment in space and time and Lux Lucis picks up this idea and reiterates it throughout the space. The vertical lines of light are metaphors for the individuals that move through the space as sources of energy and inspiration. The beams of colored light intersect and make new combinations.

The movement of the water in the pool along the north edge of the courtyard will be reflected and projected by the columns at either end. Even the movement of the leaves in the trees becomes a rich animation in the reflections and projections of the columns.

Within the building there is a quiet echo to this interplay of light and colour. In the three-story skylight over the reception desk, three of the triangular columns are suspended lines in space. As the sun moves and daylight shifts, the lines project and reflect color onto the skylight walls and even onto the floors below and through the glass, causing multiple reflections in the glass walls surrounding the columns and animating the space.

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Lux Lucis, 2008 description
© Catherine Widgery