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Artist builds a near-invisible shack in the Californian desert

Artist builds a near-invisible shack in the Californian desert

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Lucid Stead is a near-invisible desert shack located in southeastern California's Joshua Tree national park. Alternating mirrored slats in artist Phillip K. Smith's installation reflect the sand, bushes, and hills of the surrounding desert, contrasting against the gnarled and worn wood that makes the framework of the 70-year-old homesteader cabin.

At night, Lucid Stead is illuminated, its windows and door glowing with LED lights that change hue over time. Smith explains why he uses a computer to vary colors slowly in his project description. "The color of the door and window openings are set at a pace of change where one might question whether they are actually changing colors." Walk away from the shack and come back a few minutes later, and he says the "blue, red, and yellow" of before might now be "orange, purple, and green."


Smith uses the LED lights and the shack's mirrors to evoke subtle transformation, saying "Lucid Stead is about tapping into the quiet and the pace of change of the desert." Watch for long enough and you'll see the shifts in the Joshua Tree park as Lucid Stead reflects the light of morning, then midday, then dusk. Finally the cabin gives off an artificial glow, as it's lit from within by white bulbs. Smith wants viewers to spend time using the human cipher of the shack to consider the open space of the desert. "Through the process of slowing down and opening yourself to the quiet, only then can you really see and hear in ways that you normally could not."