The invisible house from another dimension

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Lucid Stead, royale projects : contemporary art royale projects : contemporary art Eclectic style houses
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Here on homify 360°, we are all about presenting you with unique and breathtaking artwork in the architectural field. Whether it is a colossal 8-bedroom mansion in a contemporary fashion, or a rustic Italian villa that overlooks a lush vineyard, we know about it – and we want to share it with you.

Which brings us to today’s discovery, which is definitely an artistic accomplishment worth mentioning. Travelling all the way to the California High Desert in the United States, we unfold a creation brought to us by the professionals at Royale Projects. 

But this structure does not serve as someone’s home; it does not feature a modern bathroom or an open plan kitchen with a stylish island, or even carpets and wallpaper. It is a contemporary art piece by American artist Phillip K Smith III. And it changes constantly.

Let’s discover the (almost) invisible house!

A peculiar sight

In the middle of the desert, in the Joshua Tree National Park in California, stands a ruined homesteader shack. Its wood sidings are sun-burnt and rough, and it is a structure that nobody would bother looking at twice (perhaps only to attempt an artistic black and white photograph).

Enter artist Phillip K Smith III. He brings with him mirrors, LED lighting, and custom-built electronic equipment. He starts working and begins to transform this forgotten shack into something memorable. He adds wide lines of mirrors to the structure, encompassing the entire shack. The doorway and three windows each receive a full mirror coating.  

The end result is this. A wooden structure that seems to be disappearing (partly) before our very eyes, becoming (to some extent) invisible. 

A foreign object that seems quite out of place in relation to the surrounding, bleak landscape. 

Reflecting and vanishing

Is the shack still there? Yes, but… somehow it seems to be checking in and out of this world, as if it’s not sure whether it wants to be invisible or not. The structure uses the surrounding desert not only as a backdrop, but as a reflection for the art piece – and as a medium, as it effectively becomes part of the piece. 

The newly added mirrors do a fantastic job of reflecting the surrounding desert, making the shack seem undetectable. An eerie effect. 

The original wood sidings of the structure have all remained as they are: cracks, broken wood, protruding nails, and rust all form part of this existing artwork. And rightly so, as it has taken 70 years for the structure to become that way, to transform into this mature character.

One could, perhaps then, state that this is a project 70 years in the making. 

​A closer look

This structure, named Lucid Stead by his creator, does a very successful job of imposing a delirious experience on the viewer. But what was the though process behind this creation?

According to the artist himself, it is about tapping into the quiet and the pace of the desert. Only when you slow down and align yourself with the bleak landscape, with this parched environment, does the project begin to unfold before you. 

Four ideas have been used in Lucid Stead’s creation: light and shadow, reflected light, projected light, and change. The light and shadow is about interacting with the sun, as the project varies dramatically depending on the time of day, and the location of the sun and shadows.

At dusk, the sunset’s reflection can be seen mirrored in the structure. But we have not covered all the bases of this project. Because what happens once dusk approaches is something else altogether…  

With darkness comes colour

The sun is setting and the surrounding landscape and sky is changing – and so is Lucid Stead. 

In sunlight, this 70-year old shack reflects and refracts the surrounding desert like a bizarre figment of the imagination. But by night, geometric fields of colour emerge from within, illuminated through the doorway and windows.    

The darker the landscape becomes, the brighter the colours shine, beaming brilliant rays of brightness out into the night. 

Since we’re on the topic of lights, you may want to take a peek at: Outdoor Lighting Ideas For Modern Houses.

A shifting palette

Once darkness begins to fall, the LEDs on the inside get to work, revealing the structure of the shack. The shining lights slowly move through the colour wheel: brilliant green slowly, gradually, turns into turquoise; lilac changes into a deep pink, then slowly sinks into a warm red radiating from within, and so forth.  

The three windows and doorway act as pure fields of colour, and they are set at just the right pace of change: unless you’re attentively staring at the structure, you might question whether they are actually changing colours. 

This transformation also adapts personal perception, and realigns one’s sensory priorities. Only then is a heightened awareness of solitude and the measured pace of this deserted landscape realised.

A glowing oasis

Darkness envelopes the landscape completely, except for the tiny bursts of colour that literally radiates from within this bright little creation. 

By day, this 70-year old wooden shack reflects the desert; and by night, it’s a projected light installation where a collection of LED lighting generates colour that slowly move through the colour wheel.

Taking all of this in, one realises that the art piece has lured us into standing still, being quiet, and truly seeing and listening.

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