Although more than four million people live in the Circumpolar North and Arctic tourism increases annually, few people have seen this part of the world. The Anchorage Museum intends to change that through its new Land Marks series, which uses technology to expose museum visitors to remote Arctic landscapes. The series launched May 11, 2017, with Terra, an experimental, multi-media wall installation in the museum atrium comprised of modular LED light panels presenting viewers with digital and moving images of Arctic landscapes and wildlife. The installation serves as an entry point for conversation, meditation, exploration, education and awareness of the Arctic, using technology and design as the format.
Using off-the-shelf technology to deliver content is a new strategy for the museum. Its accessibility is what excites museum curators. By exaggerating the scale of the intended use of the product, the museum creates an immersive experience that becomes both architectural and a visual canvas. This project serves as an entry point for conversation, meditation, exploration, education and awareness of the Arctic.
Terra uses nearly 1,188 Nanoleaf Aurora panels – triangular, color-changing, LED light panels – that are at available at retail outlets or online. Users (in this case, museum staff) control the light through mobile devices or by verbal commands. Most units are used as a light-based decoration or design element for a home or business. The museum, in collaboration with Nanoleaf Canada Limited, programmed the panels to not only display light and color, but also still and moving images. The Anchorage Museum’s media and technology team wrote the software application to control the light panels, using Nanoleaf's application programming interface to incorporate still and moving images. The museum’s design team fabricated 28 sheet metal panels to hold the 1,188 triangle-shaped lights that comprise the installation, which is 57 feet 11 inches wide and six feet six inches high.
Video content is Arctic images, from landscapes to animals, ocean to land. With the scale of the installation and the breakdown into layers of triangles, the images become abstracted, hinting at the Arctic an an active, vibrant place - a landscape known to its four million residents but abstract to much of the world.
At the time of its installation, Terra was the largest installation of Nanoleaf Aurora panels to date (500 panels were installed in a renovated bar in Mumbai) and the first to integrate film and digital images, according to NanoLeaf, a Toronto-based company that develops and sells energy-efficient lighting that blends emerging technology with contemporary design.