Given my involvement with the Princeton University Art Museum, few people would guess that I am a computer science major, and I am often met with shocked expressions when I mention my concentration on highlights tours. Yet there exist many intersections between technology and art.
This summer, I am interning at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, also known as Googleplex. To supplement my engineering duties, I enjoy engaging with the art on Google’s campus. From the atypical sculpture garden (it’s filled with Androids!) to the Google-colored ball pit to the G-Bikes around campus, everything outside is vibrant and polychromatic, iconically and unmistakably Google.
The exterior of Google, with its dinosaur sculptures and tourists snapping pictures, contrasts with the tranquil, breathtaking building interiors. Though Googleplex is so large, I’m impressed by the detail in every building. Every week, I stumble upon a new, gorgeous area of campus with intricate designs.
The 1900 building lobby houses the Googletron, an interactive lighting system, similar to a chandelier, created by dual artist and engineer Mark Lotter. Almost five meters across and three meters tall, the stunning sculpture can be viewed both from below in the lobby and from the side on a second-story balcony. Each of the 5,760 lights is controlled independently, and the unit can be programmed (by Googlers) to display different designs. The sheer magnitude of this project is astounding: each light contains 34,560 LEDs, and these LEDs can be updated 50 times per second.
Few sculptures are made to fit their location and purpose, but Googletron is one of them. The cylindrical shape was chosen to match the existing lobby shape, and the patterns that Googletron displays–sine waves, rotations, Cartesian-to-polar-coordinate mapping–are all grounded in mathematics, much as the core product of Google is. Though the colors are not as vivid as Google’s iconic red, yellow, green, and blue, I feel that this sculpture represents more of the creativity and innovation that goes on at the heart of Google.
At first, Googletron reminded me of trendy, Instagrammable locations such as the 2016 Pace Art + Technology Gallery in Menlo Park, near Facebook Headquarters. Now, I realize that the reason for this trend is that technology provides a new way of creating and sharing art that appeals to everyone.