Total Internal Reflection

Made by nmatis, Erin Fuller, Tyler Stern, Ophelie Tousignant and zislamha

Inspired by the extraordinary hues of sunrise and sunset, Total Internal Reflection provides guidance, relaxation, and delight to visitors of the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Created: October 8th, 2018

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Introduction

Total Internal Reflection is a light installation in the main terminal of the Pittsburgh International Airport, designed to compliment Clayton Merrell's terrazzo floor installation, The Sky Beneath Our Feet. We were inspired by the beautiful colors of the sky during dawn and dusk, as well as the refraction that creates these colors. 

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Description

Long wave-shaped tubes are hung in the large atrium space, echoing the patterns of the flight paths on the floor. The tubes emit light by refraction through individual fins hanging down from the tubes, varying in length. The two-dimensional quality of these fins causes the lights to disappear and reappear as a traveler walks through the terminal and views the fixtures from different perspectives. This installation is best experienced while in motion, making it an ideal installation for a high-traffic area.

The light colors used are reminiscent of sunrise: pinks, oranges, and blues. The light "blossoms" from either of the southern most corners of the terminal, slowly traveling diagonally across the installation. This is intended to mimic the emergence of the sun at dawn, and should produce a calming atmosphere in the traditionally stressful environment of the airport. The flow of the lights also works to direct people toward the branches of the terminal. The fins are etched with a simple sunbeam pattern, which adds some smaller-scale detail to the design and creates interesting light pathways.    

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Inspired by the extraordinary hues of sunrise and sunset, Total Internal Reflection provides guidance, relaxation, and delight to visitors of the Pittsburgh International Airport.