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Machine Learning and Mandalas: Inside Suchi Reddy’s Latest Artwork

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“Everything you do and say affects your future.” That’s the guiding principle behind architect and artist Suchi Reddy’s new sculpture, which will debut in November in Washington, D.C., as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s 175th anniversary exhibit.

Ms. Reddy, 53, is known for her distinctive approach to architecture. Her New York-based firm, Reddymade, veers from the traditional principle of “form follows function,” which dictates that a building’s purpose should determine its design, and instead relies on a mantra of “form follows feeling,” which says the design of a building should consider how it makes people feel. She applies what she calls a “neuroaesthetic” ethos to her work, with the goal of using space to create emotions and influence well-being, creativity and productivity.

Like her architectural practice, Ms. Reddy’s approach to her sculpture stems from the idea that people’s feelings should both influence and reflect their environment. Her ethos feels particularly relevant today, as people take stock of a year that forced them to spend much more time at home. As the world slowly reopens, there is an opportunity to rethink the design of offices, schools, streets and other areas—and how humans interact in public space.

Titled “me + you,” Ms. Reddy’s artwork will use artificial intelligence to reflect the relationship between individual agency and collective humanity.

The sculpture is a 20-foot-high white column made of thin, flexible sheets of LEDS and diffusers, or materials that soften light by scattering light beams, ringed by dozens of arching, lit-up, acrylic tubes that jut out from the base in what she calls the cloud. The result is what looks like a fountain, only instead of water flowing from the center, there are glowing plastic tentacles.

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