Archives for : April2011

BEACON at the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia

Beacon (2010) is an light sculpture created by media artist Ben Rubin; its animated shapes are based on the unique visual structure of the pages of the Talmud. It was commissioned by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, where it was permanently installed in November, 2010.

The Talmud is the central document of Jewish law, and it represents a vital conversation that has taken place over centuries. Each page of the Talmud is a unique graphic rendition of that conversation: a primary text is surrounded by layers of commentary, dissent, and counterargument, all arranged in concentric layers around the passage.   Beacon animates the Talmud by transforming each page into simple luminous shapes and then moving theses shapes through seven planes of LED light.  The result is an illuminated volume, brightest at its core, in a continual state of change.

From the museum’s press release:

Beacon is a permanent LED light installation created by media artist Ben Rubin. It glows from the top of the museum’s glass envelope facade on the fifth floor terrace at the southeast corner of Fifth and Market streets, where it  overlooks Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the National Constitution Center.  The sculpture employs 2,688 LED nodes arranged on seven parallel mesh panels, each 64-inches wide by 96-inches tall, spaced 16-inches apart.

The sculpture’s luminous forms are drawn directly from more than 5,000 pages of the Talmud, one of the central texts of Judaism.  Rubin has transformed the layout of each Talmud page into a simplified graphic composition and programmed the pages to move in a fluid sequence through the installation’s seven planes of light, adding the glow from this essential Jewish text to Philadelphia’s nighttime skyline.

Its name, Beacon, suggests a light that leads the way to the Museum and also to the fundamental values of freedom, justice and the law, values embodied in both the Talmud and the U.S. Constitution.

National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA (Photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto, courtesy of National Museum of American Jewish History)

Conceptual rendering, 2009 (image: Michele Gorman)

Serial study, 2009 (rendering: Michele Gorman)


Philadelphia Inquirer: National Museum of American Jewish History topped by a new light sculpture
By Tom Stoelker, July 22, 2010

High-resolution images can be downloaded here.
Please contact EAR Studio to request permission for publication.

Project credits:

Design & Modeling: Michele Gorman / EAR Studio Inc.
Fabrication & Engineering: Marty Chafkin / Perfection Electricks
LED Systems: RGB Lights, Chicago