Fabric Prism

Fabric Prism is an inflatable immersive color installation built around the fundamental properties of light and color. Outside, red, blue, and green fabric panels filter light through an inflated membrane where color wavelengths combine, producing an iridescent, subtle color gradient on the white surface inside.

The technique of creating iridescence through geometric arrangement of material is inspired by the phenomena of structural color. The way many organisms in nature produce color is not through pigment at all, but through microscopically structured surfaces fine enough to alter the visible light reflecting back off of them. This phenomena of varying color can be seen in many bird feathers as well as butterfly wings.

The Fabric Prism acts as an interactive diagram for viewers to place themselves relative to this effect. As you walk around the structure, different perspectives grant you varying combinations of the red, blue and green panels on the outside. On the inside, all of the colors are constantly shifting throughout the day relative to the position of the sun. In an increasingly digital world, this pavilion seeks to highlight the intrinsic qualities of light and color which are at the foundations of all that we can perceive. It is a technology that is utilized heavily on all our devices as well as natural processes.

The structure is a double-membrane inflatable structure designed and fabricated by Pneuhaus. The plug-in Grasshopper for Rhino was used to model the form digitally. From the digital model, templates were made with a HP DraftPro Plus pen plotter. For about two weeks, fabric was cut and sewn on industrial sewing machines. The material is a UV, fire, and water resistant 200 denier nylon.

Commissioned by Judith Tolnick Champa and Leora Maltz-Leca, the installation was put up on June 3, 2016 as part of PVDFest: a festival celebrating international arts in Providence, Rhode Island. The project is one in a series of explorations of RGB additive color experiments done by Pneuhaus.