In this age of high tech lighting and special effects, it can be easy to overlook the simple magic of light transformed though glass. Hyperprism is nothing more than glass prisms refracting light into its component colors. The work is anything but simple, as several thousand glass prisms arranged in a spiral pattern and fixed between two sheets of aluminum come alive in strong sunlight.
From the outside, the look of metal panels with a pattern of pin prick holes is nothing remarkable. But walk around to the shaded inside and everything changes. The three panels stand at slight angles to each other and are canted inwards ever so slightly. The shape creates the suggestion of enclosure, but also provides just enough shadow. The artwork is facing south to capture the low winter sun. Round the corner to the shade side and spots of dazzling color begin dancing over the surface.
I made a mental comparison to the mystical effect of sunlight turned into living color. Medieval monks were so fascinated by the effect of light on colored glass that they devised magnificent artworks with the material. They equated the light of the sun as it transformed the glass to God’s Devine light transforming the human soul. Hyperprism adds one very modern component that takes it beyond traditional art glass - movement. To experience the light requires the viewer to move around, it can’t be observed by standing still. This makes the work is a truly inspired piece of public art. To get the full effect, a person must be engaged!
This work was produced to coordinate with the East Austin Studio Tour. TEMPO, Austin’s Art in Public Places series of temporary public art projects, are commissioned in batches for short durations. Some of the current installations will remain in place for several more weeks, but Hyperprism, designed by local artist Autumn Ewalt was only up from November 12 through the 20th, the two weekends of EAST. I overheard someone at the Govalle Park mentioning that there might be a new location for this piece. I would strongly encourage this and if it does get a new home, I would highly recommend a visit.