Portland Winter Light Festival – Design Process

January 28, 2020

Into the Dreamscape 2020
Waking Reverie by TVA Architects, A PDXWLF Community Partner

Portland, OR – Portland Winter Light Festival (PDXWLF), presented by Portland General Electric and powered by PGE Green Future renewable power, kicks off its most dynamic and artistic festival season to date, with a full roster of over 100 individual artists in such varied media as video projection mapping, fire sculpture, and live performance. As the festival enters its fifth year, the curatorial theme is “Into the Dreamscape.”

“It is unbelievable to see the momentum this free, outdoor community art event has gained over the last five years,” says Executive Director Alisha Sullivan. “The light festival showcases the best of what living in Portland is truly about: the community coming together, rain or shine, to make something beautiful happen that is completely unique to our city.”

Founded in 2016, the festival has established itself as a premier regional attraction for artists and visitors due to dazzling and unique art installations, a family-friendly atmosphere, and an entirely free cost of admission.

“Waking Reverie”, designed by TVA Architects in collaboration with Catena Consulting Engineers, has been awarded one of the Festival’s premiere installation locations at the Green Circle in front of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The installation features the reflection and refraction of light within a multi-layered octahedron. Using a theory called “Pepper’s Ghost,” four, two-dimensional images are projected onto the surface of the octahedron, creating the illusion of three-dimensional objects floating in mid-air. The octahedron rests on a thin steel frame over concealed LED panels, which create a holographic effect intended to captivate and disorient. The TVA studio also created the video content for the hologram.

“Waking Reverie” is a portal between consciousness and sleep, where objective reality blends with imagination and memory. Familiar and recognizable images morph into abstract illustration. Concrete objects are dematerialized as the vivid colors of dreams come to life. “Waking Reverie” lulls the viewer into a mesmerizing state.”

As a theme, “Into the Dreamscape” proved to be rich with inspiration. The desire to explore light reflection, refraction, and distortion intrigued the TVA team and drove the final design; translating light manipulation into a physical art installation on a grand scale: a hologram.

TVA’s core team included Elisa Rocha, Mark Williams, Bonnie Chiu, Spencer Russell, and Joel Cota. Each member brought their own aptitude and vision of “Into the Dreamscape” to the table. They came together as one, wanting to push the boundaries of what has been done before. Along the way, they learned new skill sets that will be applied to their professional work. This experience is simultaneously strengthening TVA’s community ties and the company culture.

The team designing at TVA's Studio

The design team at TVA’s Studio. From left to right: Mark Williams, Bonnie Chiu, Elisa Rocha, Joel Cota, and Spencer Russell.

“This exercise connected my work in architecture with my passion for the performing arts. It is very meaningful to be a part of this new community partnership and city tradition and to work on a project that will engage children and adults alike. Additionally, it was exciting to experiment with light theory and physics – something I do not typically do in my field.” Elisa Rocha.

This project shows what TVA’s company culture is all about. Empowering TVA’s young designers, this “thinking outside the box” process was a welcomed team-building experience.

“PDXWLF allowed TVA to show different sides of the firm. I found it refreshing to work with different team members and problem-solve together. Each member had vastly different ideas about how they interpreted this year’s concept. We found ways to come together. Along with Catena Engineering, we created a support framework and custom fasteners using our in-house 3D printer to hold the pyramids together while maintaining the transparency of the initial concept.” Mark Williams

“It is always an enjoyable experience to apply structural creativity into something not entirely governed by the prescriptive process of a building code. Having these opportunities to assist architects and artists create elements of beauty is fun and rewarding.” John McDonald, Catena Consulting Engineers.

Motion Graphic

Still image of the motion graphic created by Spencer Russell

Architects have a desire to create and design. This project allowed the team to develop ideas without many boundaries, something that was invigorating for the team. They welcomed full design control, including the production of the motion graphic video.

 

“We created a hologram effect by reflecting images onto reflective, transparent planes, which gives the illusion that the images are floating in space. The projection will come from a LED panel displaying custom graphic imagery that will be reflected upon acrylic panels.” Spencer Russell

Motion graphic displayed on the LED panels at ‘Picture This Production Services and Stage.’

“I have found that experimentation in architecture is absolutely critical in the overall progress of any firm. It provides an opportunity to step out of the everyday minutiae of a typical architectural project to let the creative side of our minds free. I was happy to see that leadership supported us in this effort and saw the benefit both for the office as a whole and for individual team members. It was also an experiment of how we could come together around a central idea and successfully produce a work of art that harnessed each of our unique abilities and talents. We are very proud and hope that this has spurred a renewed interest here at TVA to continue participating in these types of projects.” Joel Cota

TVA explored new ideas, programs, and art-making methods. PDXWLF allowed TVA to come together as equal contributors and create something beautiful for the community in the interest of art.

Left to right: Bonnie, Elisa, Spencer, and Mark assembling the test-fit. Photo by Joel.

“This opportunity allowed us to be involved with the community and work with local companies that we don’t usually work with. This process was the complete opposite of the typical architecture process. Seeing the plans come to life quickly was not only gratifying but also rewarding – something that takes years normally “ Bonnie Chiu

TVA Architects is a nationally recognized architectural, interiors, and planning design firm based in Portland, OR. Established in 1984 and rooted in the Pacific Northwest, TVA has a rich history of providing innovative and comprehensive design services for their clients.

Left to right: Joel, Elisa, Mark, Spencer, and Bonnie installing the installation.

You can find TVA’s installation at OMSI’s Green Circle on the west side by the Eastbank Esplanade www.pdxwlf.com/waking-reverie.

Full details, including performance schedules and artist bios, are now available at www.pdxwlf.com.

What: Portland Winter Light Festival 2020
When: February 6-8, 2020
Where: At sites throughout Portland: see maps at www.pdxwlf.com
Cost: FREE

About the Portland Winter Light Festival
The Portland Winter Light Festival (PDXWLF) is Portland’s premier outdoor winter art event that transforms, illuminates and animates Portland’s nighttime urban landscape.

The mission of the Portland Winter Light Festival, an annual program of the Willamette Light Brigade, is to build community by bringing art and technology to inclusive audiences while invigorating Portland in the winter. This not-for-profit event is funded by support from individual donors, and corporate sponsors. To donate, visit www.pdxwlf.com/donate.

Imagery:
Cover image prototype by TVA staff member, Joel Cota.
Photography by TVA staff members, Elisa Rocha and Whitney Allred

Article References:
Michelle David (2020). Portland Winter Lights Festival, Communications Manager, press@pdxpwlf.com
Peppers Ghost. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper’s_ghost. Retrieved January 2020