Lucid Stead illuminates the desert with Arduino

Phillip K Smith III has created a rather unique work of art in the California desert using an old shack tricked out with an Atmel-based Arduino board and LEDs. According to Gizmag’s Adam Williams, the solar-powered structure is designed to change color throughout the day like a chameleon.

“A curious blend of architecture and art project, Lucid Stead is located on a sizable plot of land owned by the artist himself. The [renovation] process involved adding mirrored strips to the exterior of the shack, and installing a custom Arduino-controlled electronics setup inside,” Williams explained.

“The Arduino is programmed to slowly change the color of several LEDs, also placed inside, which shine light out of the four windows and door as the day progresses. It’s a simple enough concept, but the effect is striking and makes the building seem to almost disappear, or glow, depending on its state.”

Interestingly, the solar panels were installed some distance away from the shack on a temporary frame, hidden behind already existing desert plants. A battery array, which provides power at night, is also located on the same unobtrusive framework, with wires buried underground to avoid spoiling the minimalist style of the project.

Clearly, Lucid Stead is all about tapping into the quiet and the pace of change of the desert.

“Like the enveloping vista that changes hue as time passes, Lucid Stead transforms. In daylight the 70 year old homesteader shack, that serves as the armature of the piece, reflects and refracts the surrounding terrain like a mirage or an hallucination,” said Smith.

“As the sun tucks behind the mountains, slowly shifting, geometric color fields emerge until they hover in the desolate darkness. When you slow down and align yourself with the desert, the project begins to unfold before you. It reveals that it is about light and shadow, reflected light, projected light and change.”

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