Inside-Out at The Pit
Inside/Out public art light installation created by Ivan Toth DePeña for WisePies Arena aka The Pit in Albuquerque.
Credit: Phyllis Kennedy

Inside/Out is an interactive public art light installation created by Ivan Toth Depeña for WisePies Arena aka The Pit at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. It premieres Friday, May 8, as part of the UNM graduation ceremonies. In honor of graduation it will glow the spirited Lobo cherry red on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, May 10, it will begin its programmed light sequence.

DePeña, a Miami and Charlotte-based artist, created this permanent art installation in the glass stair tower of the renovated arena. Inside/Out will enliven the building through a dynamic nighttime light display programmed to convey the excitement of activities held at the facility.

"The project is inspired by the idea that architecture can be a living, breathing organism that gets injected with life as it is inhabited by its visitors and, in turn, projects the energy that takes place within the structure outward into the city itself," explained Depeña. "Conversely, the structure could incorporate the characteristics of its surroundings during given time frames."

During Lobo games and special events, the interior of the building is revealed on the exterior. This means that all of the noise that is made during the game or event is captured and directly represented on the exterior of the building in real time via the dynamic quality of the lighting. The LED lights are connected to a microphone/sensor near the seating at the Pit and the activity of the crowd is tied to the colors displayed on the glass tower light installation. The exterior of the building will be responding to the noise levels that occur within it.

Additionally, the lighting is programmed, down to the minute, to respond to the environmental/color conditions of the sunset time frame. The intention is for the architecture to have a direct dialogue with the landscape, horizon and the site's general environment. Given the location and site conditions, Depeña thought the "Outside" portion of Inside/Out should become something that integrated itself into the surroundings.

Inspired by the New Mexico sunset and the brilliant colors that are revealed during the magical ending of the day, Depeña wanted there to be a ritualistic discussion between the natural and the artificial. This sunset mode will be different each evening just as the incredible sunsets of New Mexico are never exactly the same.

Inside/Out is part of the Art in Public Places program of New Mexico Arts, the state arts agency and a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. The total cost of the installation is $200,000. Insight, a Rio Rancho, N.M., company manufactured the lighting fixtures used in the installation.

Paul Krebs, vice president for UNM Athletics said, "Inside/Out adds another feature to what already is one of the most iconic venues in all of sports. We continue to look for ways to enhance the fan experience and the vibrancy surrounding all of our athletic facilities."

Depeña’s artistry is informed by his experience in art, architecture, technology and design. His studio combines hands on methodology layered with high tech output and fabrication. Depeña's work exemplifies the harmonic moment when various creative disciplines come together seamlessly.

Inside/Out is a cutting edge public art light installation that explores the relationship between interior activity and an external display. The ever-changing colors are a delightful addition to the skyscape of Albuquerque.