'As We Are' in Columbus, Ohio

First of all, there’s the sheer size of the thing.

It’s a 14-foot-tall, three-dimensional head. And it’s covered in 3,000 LED panels, populated by 850,000 LED lights.

‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr
‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr

Then there’s the photo booth in the back. Passersby in the Columbus Convention Center can slip behind a curtain there and have their photo made.

‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr
‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr

Et voila! Their image appears on the head itself, for all to see.

“It’s amazing how people have different reactions to it – some are wowed, and some are taken aback, and some are having a mini-existential crisis,” says its creator, artist Matthew Mohr. “But by and large, most people love it – it’s fun, but it’s really an intense experience.”

‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr
‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr

It’s also a not-so-subtle commentary on social media and the role it plays in our culture today.

Educated at Parsons School of Design, Mohr says his “As We Are” sculpture/statement refers back to the work of Claes Oldenberg, Chuck Close, Tim Hawkinson – and Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain in Chicago. Each artist’s work communicates with the viewer in an intimate way.

‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr
‘As We Are,’ by Matthew Mohr

“An interactive art piece is a genuine opportunity to connect with someone,” he says. “If in some small way they form a relationship with it and think about the life they’re living, I think it’s well worth it.”

Matthew Mohr
Matthew Mohr

The sculpture/statement will have a lifespan of seven to 10 years, with all its photographs grouped and displayed in a slide show with an equal distribution of skin color. And it will evolve over time.

But how? “I can’t tell you,” he says. “That’s part of the fun.”

I suppose we’ll all just have to watch – and wait.

For more, go here, or here or here.

J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications, and is architecture critic for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He edits a digital design magazine at www.architectsandartisans.com,, where portions of this column first appeared, and is the author of “Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand“ (Routledge: 2015). He can be reached at mike@architectsandartisans.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at: @mikewelton.

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