The Koi Pond A large-scale immersive video environment

Technology and Art

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.



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Garden Inspiration

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:

  • Borrowing Scenery. Incorporating outside views.
  • Miniaturization. For this first site-specific iteration of The Koi Pond, we are echoing the prehistoric lake bed and desert around us.
  • Concealing and Revealing. Garden views as an unraveling scroll with contemplation areas.
  • Combining Artifice with Antiquity.
  • Respect for Materials.
  • Reverence for Nature.

imageThe 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:


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Koi Pond Tech Specs

The Koi Pond is a complex electronic art piece comprised in part of the following:

  • 200 sq. ft. pond surface
  • 563,000 full color LED video array
  • Koi fish and water rendered in real time
  • Fish can react to environment and time of day
  • Meticulously crafted wooden bridge and Torii gate made from the repurposed lumber from a 100 year old theater
  • Custom designed and hand-crafted lanterns, benches, deck, and fence
  • Precision waterjet cutting of 1/8 aluminium sheets to form the base of pond
  • Custom CNC cut and formed steel mullion substructure

The Koi Pond is supported in part by a grant from Burning Man. 



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Koi Pond Prototype

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!


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Multiple revisions of SketchUp renderings were done in the process of designing this site specific installation.


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