One hundred miles of twine compose this public sculpture of suspended netting above Boston, a structure that spans the void of an elevated highway that once split downtown Boston from its waterfront. The artist, Janet Echelman (previously), designed the artwork titled As If It Were Already Here to reflect the history of the installation’s location. Echelman also intended the piece to be a visual metaphor—a way to “visually knit together the fabric of the city with art,” she explains.
The installation is 600 feet at its widest, including over 500,000 knots for structural support. Each time one section of the sculpture sways or vibrates in the wind the other parts follow suit, undulating as a single form 600 feet in the sky. As the day progresses the 1,000-pound structure’s webbed surface begins to glow, becoming a beacon in the sky rather than blending into the blue above it. In addition to moving with the wind, the structure also glows in response to sensors that register tension and project light onto the sculpture.
As If It Were Already Here is just one of Echelman’s enormous sculptures, she’s also installed pieces in Montreal, Seattle, and elsewhere. Echelman received the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Harvard University Loeb Fellowship, a Fulbright Lectureship, and was named an Architectural Digest Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.” You can see Echelman speak about her other environmentally-responsive sculptures in her TED talk here. (via Beautiful Decay)
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In the late 1990s artist Janet Echelman traveled to India as a Fulbright Scholar with the intention of giving painting exhibitions around the country. She shipped her painting supplies ahead of time and landed in the fishing village of Mahabalipuram to begin her exhibitions with one major hitch: the painting supplies never arrived. While walking through the village Echelman was struck by the quality and variety of nets used by the local fisherman and questioned what it might look like if such nets were hung and illuminated in the air. Could it be a new approach to sculpture? A new chapter in her artist career was born, and the artist has since dedicated her time and energy to creating these massive net sculptures in locations around the world.
Echelman is currently embarking on her largest piece ever, a 700-foot-long sculpture that will be suspended over Vancouver next month in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the TED Conference. In collaboration with the Burrard Arts Foundation, she’s currently seeking funding via Kickstarter to make it happen. There’s all kinds of great prints, postcards, and shirts available so check it out.
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