William Grant Turnbull

Public Art

I Heard It Through The Grapevine (2006)

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Installed in the east-facing stairwell of UW-Madison's Humanities Building, this piece included six stories of green, blue and purple neon-tubes and green theater lighting gels covering the existing fluorescent tubes of the stairwell. "Grapevine" created a space filled with a dense green light. After spending the minute or two required to climb the stairs, viewers' eyes acclimate to the green light, causing the green cone cells in their retinas to become de-sensitized. Conversely, the red and blue cone cells in the eye become over-sensitized. The startling result: viewers exiting the installation see the white walls outside of the stairwell as bright magenta. This illusion only lasts until the viewer's eyes readjust to normal lighting conditions – about as long as the trace of a camera flash stays in the eye after a photo is taken.
(No one was harmed during the display of this work, though it did freak some people out.)
Thanks to: Apollo Marquez, Reid Anderson, Casey Martin, Justin Richardson and the UW Arts Institute light show fund.

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© William Grant Turnbull 2009