Team San Jose and City Officials Welcome New Interactive Sculpture

Posted September 12th, 2013

City and Team San Jose Officials announced the installation of an exciting interactive public artwork at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center Plaza. The artwork, entitled Idea Tree, creates a vast interactive exterior experience for visitors that references Silicon Valley’s creative idea landscape.

Idea Tree is symbolic of the innovative spirit alive in San Jose and reinforces the technological advancements in Silicon Valley,” said CEO Bill Sherry. “This installation provides an iconic, artistic and technology driven element to the main entrance of the Convention Center and provides a new sense of place for conference attendees and visitors to San Jose.”

Adjacent to the Idea Tree canopy is a freestanding ‘sound booth’ where the public can leave short voice messages that are wirelessly transmitted to the canopy, and reassembled into an ambient soundscape audible from underneath the sculpture. At night the central element of the sculpture, which the artist calls ‘the fruit,” is lit from within with a soothing pulse of LED light that changes rhythm signaling with the active mixing of sound.

“We live in a dynamic age, so public art cannot afford to remain as static objects of passive enjoyment,” said artist and architect Soo-in Yang. “Through my work, public art becomes a domain for active public participation and discussion, which is the concept behind Idea Tree.”

Soo-in Yang is an architect and public artist based in San Francisco and Seoul, Korea. His work ranges in breadth from architecture, participatory art, and design to marketing campaigns, and in scale from buildings to palm-sized devices.  From rooms made from recycled moss and plastic that indicate air quality, to transforming noodle soups with embedded dynamic messages, Yang’s public artworks have been installed in the U.S., China and South Korea. Yang earned Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from Yonsei University, Korea, and Master of Architecture from Columbia University, where he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor and Founding Co-Director of the Living Architecture Lab. He directs Lifethings, a multi-disciplinary design office based in Seoul.

“The City of San Jose is thrilled to have Soo-in Yang’s innovative Idea Tree as an interactive visual element that welcomes visitors and the community to San Jose’s newly remodeled Convention Center,” said Kim Walesh, director of Economic Development and chief strategist for San Jose. “The art piece reflects San Jose’s leadership at the intersection of art and technology. It’s a significant addition to our growing Illuminating Downtown Project.”

The installation is one of the finishing touches to the Convention Center expansion and renovation project, which is slated for completion in September 2013. The expansion will add an additional 125,000 square feet of flexible ballroom and meeting room space, increasing San Jose’s Convention Center space to 550,000 square feet of usable space.

The Idea Tree was funded through to the City of San Jose Public Art Ordinance, which utilizes 1 percent of public capital improvement project funding for the creation of public art. The art piece will be undergoing beta testing until the official opening of the Convention Center in October. The San Jose Convention Center and Idea Tree will officially open on October 10, 2013 with a Community Day celebration, free and open to the public. For more information about the Grand Opening events, please go to