Patterned by Nature

Inspiring awe for nature and science with a sculpture that animates sunlight.

Patterned by Nature was commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for the newly built Nature Research Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The artwork, a collaboration between Plebian Design, Hypersonic Engineering & Design, Patten Studio, and Sosolimited, celebrates our abstraction of nature's infinite complexity into patterns through the scientific process, and through our perceptions. It brings to light the similarity of patterns in our universe, across all scales of space and time.

10 feet wide and 90 feet in length, this sculptural ribbon winds through the five story atrium of the museum and is made of 3600 tiles of LCD glass. It runs on roughly 75 watts, less power than a laptop computer. Animations are created by independently varying the transparency of each piece of glass.

The content cycles through twenty programs, ranging from clouds to rain drops to colonies of bacteria to flocking birds to geese to cuttlefish skin to pulsating black holes. The animations were created through a combination of algorithmic software modeling of natural phenomena and compositing of actual footage.

An eight channel soundtrack accompanies the animations on the ribbon, giving visitors clues to the identity of the pixelated movements. In addition, two screens show high resolution imagery and text revealing the content on the ribbon at any moment.

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North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences



Plebian Design

Patten Studio

The sculpture soars over visitors' heads as it winds through the atrium.

The sculpture filters natural light and runs on low power.

“The 4,000 pound structure looks weightless as it bends and twists through the sun-filled atrium, looking like a ribbon blowing in the wind.”

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