C California Style

PHOTO: courtesy of Phillip K. Smith III.
PHILLIP K. SMITH III’s Bent Parallel, 2014, is composed of glass, aluminum, LED lighting and custom electronics. PHOTO: Lance Gerber.

Bright Idea

by C California Style

Palm Desert-based artist Phillip K. Smith III explores perception, space and time in his bold light-based oeuvre.

On view at the Laguna Art Museum, his installation Bent Parallel blends outsize walls of color to dazzling and illusory effect (through Jan. 15; lagunaartmuseum.org). Up next: an installation for Desert X (Feb. 25-April 30, desertx.org), Coachella Valley’s inaugural, site-specific exhibition. We caught up with the master of optics. How do you view the artist’s role in society? To change people’s perceptions of the world around them. To allow people to break out of their own way of thinking. To open people’s senses to the beauty, energy and subtlety of the world. Favorite medium? Anything translucent. Translucency creates a kind of mystery of light and has the ability to make light physical—the feeling that you can pick it up and hold it. Who would you like to collaborate with? James Turrell, Robert Irwin and the Dan Flavin estate—at the Colosseum in Rome. What can you tell us about your Desert X installation? I’m thinking that I will be reconfiguring ¼ Mile Arc [Smith’s large-scale outdoor installation artwork commissioned by Laguna Art Museum] to create a composition that will take place in the middle of the desert as opposed to the ocean versus land. It’s a 360-degree experience. What can you not live without? A pen and a piece of paper. Every single project I have ever made begins with a piece of paper and a pen. pks3.com. GABÉ HIRSCHOWITZ

Edited by Elizabeth Khuri Chandler.