The Koi Pond is a large-scale interactive light sculpture that combines technology and traditional craftsmanship.
Brightly colored koi slowly circle the pond and react to stimulus from the visitors. A handmade wooden bridge featuring traditional Japanese joinery gracefully arcs over the pond and provides a different vantage point for viewing and contemplating the over 500,000 pixels that make up the surface.
By JoeJoe Martin and Crew | Debuted at Burning Man 2016
JoeJoe Martin is an electronics artist who works in San Francisco, CA.
For the past 14 years, he has been a principal designer in some of the largest, most complex, and most appreciated pieces at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, NV. His electronic work has brought to life Marco Cochrane's Bliss Dance and Re:Evolution, Peter Hudson's Homouroboros, Tantalus, Eternal Return and Charon, Robert Bose's Balloon Chain, Michael Christian's Candelaphytes, and Zachary Coffin’s Temple of Gravity and Universe Revolves around You.
JoeJoe was born in Rochester, MN in 1977 and has been involved in computers and electronics since an early age. He received a Computer Engineering degree at Georgia Tech in 2000. His early work was in alternate process photography and kinetic video sculpture. In 2003, JoeJoe moved to the Bay Area where he was a cofounder of LumiGeek, a custom circuitry and software company for large-scale lighting installations. Some of his clients include Red Bull, SXSW, Salesforce, Summit Series, The Do Lab, Coachella, Autodesk, Cirque du Soleil, and artist Jen Lewin.
In 2014, JoeJoe was invited to be a resident artist at Autodesk’s Pier 9. He is currently applying his electronics expertise at Obscura Digital, a creative studio that creates immersive experiences through projection mapping.
Our language is changing. Technology is being integrated into our society not just as a tool, but as its structure. The increased accessibility of technology has enabled artists to interact with their audience in new ways. In many ways The Koi Pond is not any different from how we have enjoyed gardens in the past. The garden is the setting for human activity. We stroll, contemplate nature, or simply take in the view.
At the same time, this is a very different kind of koi pond. It’s digital. When we use technology to make a phone call, it’s a tool. When we use LEDs to light our homes, it’s a tool. But when we use these things to create art, it is a language. Language does not just give us a way to describe what we see, but shapes how we see. How will things look when our language expands even further through technology?
We hope that The Koi Pond will give us a new vocabulary for how we perceive the world around us.
For The Koi Pond, we are drawing from many sources of inspiration to combine traditional elements of Japanese gardens with modern design and techniques. Some of the traditional elements we are paying tribute to include:
The principles of garden design vary immensely depending on purpose, time and location. These varieties of garden styles have influenced each other as well. One can see Hindu-Buddhist traditions converge with Daoism, Zen Buddhism and Shinto beliefs even in the most traditional Japanese garden. These histories are documented, but there is a large gap between theory and practice. Additionally, gardens are subject to change, both through nature and by design.Therefore, when we researched these relationships, we tried to be mindful of historical intentions as speculations, and not assertions.
Some of our favorite gardens are:
The Koi Pond started life as 3 x 7 ft irregular shaped LED display, comprised of about 66,000 LEDs. It was shown at the Autodesk Artist in Residence exhibition in the fall of 2015. Accompanying this piece is an Instructable, where you can get details on how to build your own!
The Koi Pond was a massive success on the playa, hosting countless appreciative participants and hosting three weddings! Though we managed to raise a considerable amount of funding, we didn't nearly cover all the costs of making this artwork possible and there is still quite a bit of outstanding debt.
If you loved the project and would like to contribute to it, you still can via paypal at email@example.com.
The Koi Pond installation and the smaller Koi Pond Prototype are both available for booking for events. Roughly two days are required for the build of the full installation.