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This Mirrored Shack In The Californian Desert Is Mesmerising

This Mirrored Shack In The Californian Desert Is Mesmerising

‘Lucid Stead’ is a pretty mesmerising thing to look at. Built from a decaying wood shack in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, this thing will most definitely have you questioning what is real, and what isn’t. Just look.


Transformed by visual and conceptual artist Phillip K. Smith III, ‘Lucid Stead’ was made from attaching mirrored glass to the panels of the wood cabin. With these long reflective mirrors, the shack all but disappears into its surroundings.

Although it might just seem like a pretty nifty optical illusion using mirrors, the real magic happens once day turns to night.


By day ‘Lucid Stead’ is a mirrored structure that reflects the quiet, desolate desert. By night, however, it’s a projected light installation.

A collection of LED lights fill the open window shapes and project bright colours across the desert. Inconspicuously and slowly though, those lights morph from hue to hue, moving through the entire rainbow colour wheel. The only way of seeing this subtle change is if you sit and watch and wait.

Phillip has masterfully slowed down the viewing process like a cool party trick – the more you look at it, the more you try to realise if the colours are actually changing, or if it’s just your eyes playing tricks on you.


The desert location wasn’t a coincidence either – as Phillip puts it, “this project is about tapping into the desert, into the pace of change and is about responding to the quiet of the place [as] ultimately in that quiet, the project begins to unfold”. Phillip calls it a “collaboration” with the 70-year-old shack, a building that was already on his property in Joshua Tree.


Interested in seeing how it was done? Check out this short video from the artist below.

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Phillip K Smith III: Lucid Stead (Joshua Tree, California 2013) from royale projects on Vimeo.

While the original ‘Lucid Stead’ in Joshua Tree has been recently closed to the public, there will be a special reconfigured installation popping up at an LA gallery in the coming months. More info here.

(All images: Lucid Stead)

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