Architecture is not one of my strong points, I admit. However, upon discovering this very clever and very weird construction, I just had to investigate the matter further. The Lucid Stead construction is a near-invisible shack, located in South Eastern California’s Joshua Tree desert-like national park.
The designer/artist, Phillip K. Smith, has made alternating mirrored slats in the installation to reflect the surrounding desert of sand, bushes and hills. This is contrasted against the contorted and worn wood that makes the framework of the 70-year-old homesteader cabin.
But it is at night where the LED technology comes into its own. Lucid Stead is illuminated after dark, its windows and door glowing with LED lights that change their hue over time. Smith explains why he uses a computer to vary the colours slowly in his project description. “The colour of the door and window openings are set at a pace of change where one might question whether they are actually changing colours.” Walk away from the shack and come back a few minutes later, and he says the “blue, red, and yellow” of before might now be “orange, purple, and green.”
He uses the LED lights and the shack’s mirrors to induce a delicate transformation, saying “Lucid Stead is about tapping into the quiet and the pace of change of the desert.” If you watch for a long enough period of time, you will see the shifts in the Joshua Tree park as Lucid Stead reflects the light of morning, then midday, then dusk. Over time, the cabin gives off a glow, as it’s lit from within.
Smith wants the viewer to contemplate the structure within its surroundings. “Through the process of slowing down and opening yourself to the quiet, only then can you really see and hear in ways that you normally could not.”