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Color Factory was commissioned as an interactive, kinetic sculpture for the atrium of the Discovery Gateway Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. The sculpture was inspired by the idea of creating a kinetic artwork that allows visitors to move huge cogs hanging overhead by turning small hand wheels. In turn, a very small amount of power is able to have a monumental effect in the space as the cogs respond to each other in sequence and dynamically animate the atrium.

Each of the cogs contains a series of unique colored acrylic panels developed through an experimental process. As the cogs rotate, visitors are able to explore the impact of color and change the color of the lighting shining into the glass atrium. In addition, each cog is unified through the exploration of patterns such as spiral, symmetrical, linear, branching and tessellation patterns. Visitors are able to discover simple sequencing within the artwork such as a series of numbers rotating around a cog. Finally, the artwork was tested and developed with the help of local children who visited the artist’s studio. Children tested the rotating device and painted many of the patterns present in the final piece, reinforcing the child-like aesthetic of the artwork.

To create this piece, Joe developed a unique process for creating colored acrylic that has found applications in the scientific and architectural lighting fields. The hanging liquid tubes are the work of Andrew Smith, a Utah artist with whom he worked.




Discovery Gateway Museum, Salt Lake City, UT


180' x 2' x 40'


MDF, color laminated acrylic, mechanical components

Commissioning Agency: 

Discovery Gateway Museum


Joe O'Connell


Color Factory

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