Leave the fun noodles at home before you jump into "The Pool," West Palm Beach's new interactive light installation debuting this week along the waterfront.
Despite its name, this temporary artwork will incorporate zero water when it spreads out over the lawn overlooking the Intracoastal. The 40-foot-wide piece is a series of concentric circles that, when stepped on, light up in different colors. Under the hood are 40,000 LED bulbs hooked to motion sensors that trigger bursts of light that shimmer and dance. Think of a psychedelic crop circle or, perhaps, the lovechild of the games Twister and Simon.
"It's a pool of light," says Sybille Welter, West Palm Beach's Art in Public Places coordinator. "It's glowing. You go in, but not into water. You get bathed with color instead."
"The Pool," created by Boulder, Colo., artist Jen Lewin, is the centerpiece of several free family-friendly activities and games overtaking downtown West Palm Beach called Summer in Paradise, which will kick off Thursday, June 4, and wrap on Aug. 29. "The Pool," which will remain on display until July 4, will accompany events such as Glow FORE It Mini Golf, a June 4-July 5 nine-hole glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course that uses neon golf balls; and Friday's It's All Glow and No H2O pool party, featuring glow-in-the-dark games and DJs spinning summer jams.
Lewin built "The Pool" for travel, and has exhibited the installation in Australia, Portugal, England and at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nev. She had the idea for the installation when she was a 19-year-old camping on the remote western coast of Australia. One night, Lewin spotted a series of puddles pockmarking the flat Australian terrain, each reflecting the full moon.
"I knew this artwork needed to be portable, and I knew at the time the technology didn't exist yet for me to create this huge, interactive light sculpture, so I waited," says Lewin, who debuted the sculpture in 2008 in Colorado. "Now, it can go anywhere in the world, from the ice-cold winter of Montreal to wet areas like Singapore. The nicest part is that it lets people meet new people. That's the point of the project: to foster play and encourage that kind of connection."
Welter says "The Pool" will "complement" a fleet of Summer in Paradise activities, designed to encourage locals to stick around West Palm Beach over the summer. It was "serendipitous," she says, that "The Pool" will be a fixture during the 20th anniversary of the every-Thursday Clematis by Night concert series, returning June 11-Aug. 27.
"The Pool" will be on view June 4-July 4 at the waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach. Admission is free. For a full list of Summer in Paradise events, call 561-822-1515 or go to WPB.org/Events.