Width 15', Height 8'
Installed on the site of Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, Synergia is a public pavilion by the students of the IU Eskenaki School of Art, Architectuare + Design in Bloomington, who were directed by Jiangmei Wu of Folded Light Art in her design studio in Spring 2017 and in the summer of 2017 as volunteers. Synergia is open to the public at Exhibit Columbus between August 26th and November 26th, 2017 in Columbus, Indiana.
Sitting next to Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, the translucent quality of the light found in Synergia in the daylight alludes to the hushed secondary light radiating from the perimeter of Saarinen’s structure. Colored LEDs further illuminate Synergia at night, creating an ephemeral atmosphere as Saarinen’s concrete façade serves as a backdrop.
The generative seed for Synergia is a bisymmetric space-filling polyhedron that tessellates the space when stacked in interlocking layers. Over five hundred of the polyhedrons, measuring about two to three feet each, work together to form elongated hexagonal units. This hexagon geometry echoes the overall geometry of Saarinen’s mid-century modernist architecture and at the same time serves as the building block of a complex and diverse structure in a way that is similar to the development of biological forms, soap bubbles, and crystal patterns.
In March 2018, Wu worked with two contractors and a group of volunteers to move the Synergia installation from the North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana to the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The volunteers included Wu's former students Tristin Moore and Siqiao Gao, and Bloomington High School South students Dexter Wu-corts and Levy Burdine. The site was the nice and quiet green space between the Simon Hall, Chemistry building, the Lindley Hall, and the Kirkwood Hall. It took the team about four days to complete the job.
While Synergia was originally designed for the site at the North Christian Church designed by Eero Saarinen, it also fitted well on IUB campus. The white pristine geometry worked in contrast with the Collegiate Gothic style structures in the background. The installation definitely had caught the eyes and curiosities of students and faculty who happened to walk by the area. For one instance, Molecular and Celluar Biochemistry professor Adam Zlotnick took his entire class to see the pavilion as Synergia’s cellular structure resembled the viruses they had been studying. For another instance, biology student Ari Williams, found peace and serenity in the pavilion while playing some guitar. He was amazed at how the cellular structure enhanced the acoustic experience outdoor on windy spring days.
Honorable Mention. LIT Lighting Design Awards 2019.
CODAAwards Top 100
IUB Students: Amy Cunningham, Marguerite Fisher-Heath, Siqiao Gao, Hannah Holloway, Kylie Knipscheer, Guanyao Li, Tristin Moore, Anna Mui, Ariana Nunes, Michelle Smith, Emma Walsh, Ye Wang, Zhanhua Yan, Simin Yu, Lu Zhang, Jin Zhu
IUPUI Students: Aaron Berndt, Ryan Comer, Shweta Daule, Shantanu Sabade, Ashutosh Salunke, Pratik Shelke
Special thanks from Jiangmei Wu: I would like to thank many individuals, including my collaborator Professor Andres Tovar of IUPUI School of Engineer and Technology, and his students in ME59700 course. My colleagues at IU SoAAD (Kelly Wilson, Marleen Newman, Peg Faimon, Ryan Mandell, Tai Rogers), Exhibit Columbus members (Janice Shimizu, Josh Coggeshall, Anne Surak, and Richard McCoy), community members of Columbus (Tricia Gilson, Jerry Karr, and “Bill” who lives near the North Christian Church and who is helping to ensure that the lights are on every night), and my most dedicated students Tristin Moore and Guanyao Li.
For research on Synergia, check out this article:
Wu, J., Inchbald, G. (2018). Folding Space Filling Bisymmetric Hendecahedrons for Large Scale Art Installation. Torrence, E., Torrence, B., Séquin, C. & Fenyvesi, K. (Eds.), Proceedings of Bridges 2018: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science, pp. 483-486, Phoenix, Arizona: Tessellation Publishing.
Photo Courtesy of Tony Vasquez.