Public Invited to Attend Launch of Aerial Sculpture, Mar. 15

A rendering of Janet Echelman’s soon-to-be sculpture

A rendering of Janet Echelman’s soon-to-be sculpture

Join the crowd at the Vancouver Convention Centre grounds on Saturday March 15 to see the launch of Janet Echelman’s incredible aerial sculpture!

Suspended 745 feet across Vancouver’s waterfront, the sculpture will appear to float between a 24-story skyscraper and the Vancouver Convention Center, site of the TED2014 Conference. As the sun sets, Echelman will share details about the sculpture and the Autodesk technology that assisted her in its design, and Aaron Koblin, Google’s Creative Director, will demonstrate how the general public can use the browser on their mobile device to choreograph the lighting onto the sculpture.

Event Details:

Date: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Vancouver Convention Centre grounds

About Janet Echelman’s Aerial Sculpture:

Echelman’s sculpture, titled Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, is presented with an original interactive work created in collaboration with Aaron Koblin, who Echelman met when they both spoke at TED2011. The sculpture is an extension of the idea Echelman presented in her talk, “Taking imagination seriously.” In the talk, Echelman shares how she fell in love with a new material — fishing net — and began creating voluptuous forms that contrast with the hard edges generally found in cities. She revealed the challenge of making these sculptures both durable and permanent, but also able to react to the wind. She shared her dream of taking these sculptures to the next level by finding materials light enough to attach to existing buildings in a neighborhood rather than requiring a new supporting steel structure.

Echelman was able to think on this scale by finding an incredibly light material — Spectra, a fiber that is 15 times stronger by weight than steel. But the engineering still presented an incredible challenge, for which no good software design tools existed.

Echelman turned to Autodesk, a longtime TED partner and leader in 3D design and engineering software that seeks out interesting design problems. Autodesk worked with Echelman to create custom 3D software to model the piece and test its feasibility. “The challenge of modeling the stress and drape of my work under gravity and wind while being aware of the fabrication constraints of my craft was interesting to them, and they stepped in to collaborate,” says Echelman. Autodesk provided the missing link to make Echelman’s artistic dream a reality. They also sponsored the sculpture.

As the sun goes down, the sculpture becomes an enormous canvas which both the Vancouver public and TED attendees help color. Echelman worked with Koblin, a Creative Director at Google Creative Lab who gave the TED Talk “Artfully visualizing our humanity,” to create a colorful and interactive lighting experience using 160,000 lumens of light. As people view the sculpture overhead, they’ll be able to choreograph the lighting with their mobile device.

For more information on the aerial sculpture, please click here.

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6 Responses to Public Invited to Attend Launch of Aerial Sculpture, Mar. 15

  1. Max

    Great idea, and it’s right out in front of the building i work in so i get a great view of the installation. Here’s the rub, as the bard would say. What happens when a seagull or god forbid and eagle gets caught in the netting? does the animal friendly public in vancouver get all upitty? or even worse, isn’t anyone else worried that when seagulls and other birds begin to perch on the netting and ropes holing up the structure, that the installation soon becomes a dripping mess of bird poopsicles!!! i see flaws in this project.

    • Thanks your concern. No bird (or any creature) has ever been harmed from one of our sculptures. Our artwork goes through a careful review in order to receive legal permits before construction begins. Since this question arises frequently, we consulted a bio-engineering firm that explained how the physical qualities of the work do not meet the criteria that would endanger birds. Our structures are not unlike naturally occurring vines and thickets often found in local forests, and birds are well adapted to avoid these. Rest assured, and we hope you enjoy the sculpture from your nearby view! – Studio Echelman

      • The bird concern struck me as well, even while admiring the beauty just now in October, six months after these posts. I didn’t see any updates on the subject in a fairly quick Google, but then I noticed that you, Studio, had commented back then on this subject.

        Are there any updates after six months’ real-world experience?


  2. Scared for birds

    I agree with Max what happens when the birds get stuck? It is not placed where they can easily be disentangled.

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  4. Though this piece may be beautiful eye candy for humans, there is no way it can be safe for our even more beautiful birds, especially at spring migration.
    People, including artists, should be 100% certain their creations do not put this planet’s wildlife at even more risk.