A New Installation in Washington, D.C. Plays with Color, Perspective, and Geometry

Prismatic, designed by Brooklyn-based firm Hou de Sousa, uses hundreds of colorful cords to create a kaleidoscopic experience.
Prismatic Hou de Sousa

Courtesy Hou de Sousa

Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington, D.C. has a new piece of eye candy to admire: Prismatic, designed by Josh de Sousa and Nancy Hou of Brooklyn-based Hou de Sousa, consists of nine sculptures that offer a kaleidoscopic experience of light, color, and space. Its pieces, which weigh from 180 to 250 pounds, are angular volumes made of painted-black rebar and woven polyester cords.

“We began the project with [the] intentions of having something that people could actually walk through and around and experience spatially, in addition to something that was just purely visual,” says de Sousa. (Prismatic is by no means Hou de Sousa’s first public installation: The firm’s 2016 Raise/Raze exhibition in D.C.’s Dupont Underground, a contemporary arts and culture space, featured an indoor landscape built from reused plastic balls. Two days after its opening, Raise/Raze sold out its whole one month run.)

Prismatic Hou de Sousa

Prismatic was commissioned as a part of the yearly Georgetown GLOW competition. The project was over a year in the making, from Hou de Sousa submitting its design to completing construction. Courtesy Hou de Sousa


As visitors move through Prismatic’s corridors, patterns created by the cords in the background and foreground are continuously conversing and shifting. This creates the feeling that the iridescent ropes are in motion, blurring their ten shades into dozens. “We were definitely targeting a kind of color mixing and moray effect that would occur even with subtle movements or orientations,” de Sousa tells Metropolis.

The reception of the piece thus far has been positive: “It’s a bit like a flame for a moth in terms of how people are getting drawn to it,” says de Sousa, so much so that several visitors have attempted to enter the pieces, at times damaging them. “I think it’s sort of flattering; people like it so much they want to literally be in it … But overall the piece gives the sense of being photoshopped or artificial in comparison to its fairly standard surroundings, so I think people want to touch it to know its real.”

Prismatic will be on view in the Senator Charles Percy Plaza in Georgetown Waterfront Park until January 6th, 2019.

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Categories: Architecture