28. Oct 2016

The “Whimsical Invasion” installation in Dupont Underground in Washington D.C./US

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag


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Sometimes the banks of clouds we see drifting across the sky are so dense and powerful that it seems as if they are about to block out the sun completely. On other days, the clouds are fine and wispy and allow rays of sunlight to penetrate and literally brighten our lives. This gives rise to fascinating images and impressions – either because of the clearly visible individual rays that light the earthly landscape like heavenly spotlights, or because of the puffy white clouds that appear to be glowing from within.

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The latter description applies perfectly to the “Whimsical Invasion” installation designed by Youngeun Kwun and Hyuntek Yoon. The dynamic cloud formation they want to create is purely artificial and far from the open sky. On the contrary: their cloud “lives” underground in Washington D.C. To be more exact, in a long corridor in an abandoned tram station, which today serves as a space to promote cutting-edge artwork, architecture, design, and other culturally relevant endeavours. “Whimsical Invasion” will consist of 650,000 tiny white plastic balls wrapped in nylon netting and strung over a length of practically 40 metres. What the viewer perceives is the mass of molecules that make up the huge cloud, its form constantly changing as if due to the wind. Somewhere inside the cloud structure there is light, which is transmitted into the underground space via the white surfaces of the plastic balls and the spaces in between them. In truth, the light is provided by pendant fixtures mounted on the concrete ceiling of the tunnel, the effect reminiscent of sunlight seeping through clouds. The LED light sources are to receive spherical translucent plastic covers to ensure the light radiated through the clouds is as diffuse as possible. The designers are considering using RGBW LEDs to control the light and achieve different luminous colours in order to simulate the effect of a sunrise or sunset and thus further impact the atmosphere in the converted underground space. The feeling of natural movement is indeed enhanced by constant movement. The light cloud structure is fastened to the ground, ceiling and walls via a series of nylon ropes, with a concealed steel pipe frame providing additional support and nylon netting holding everything together. At the same time, it is the way the structure is anchored into place that renders the installation so dynamic. Visitors will be able to create movement by touching and pushing the cloud, generating the impression of clouds blown by the wind. The idea is that the pliable skin will allow movements from inside the cloud to be transferred to the outer surface, and vice versa.

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The intention is to build an internal passage through the cloud structure so visitors can pass through the volume and experience the heavenly feeling of being surrounded by gently glowing, softly flowing haze. An especially, almost surreal experience in the middle of a cloud that people can see, touch and perceive all around them. And then the light, the simulated sunlight, shimmering softly through the white veil of cloud.

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The designers’ goal was to create a surreal midair environment in the Dupont Underground. The concept promises to achieve that, bringing interaction and emotional response into an otherwise gloomy underground space.


Sponsor: Dupont Underground

Architecture and design: Youngeun Kwun (designer) und Hyuntek Yoon (architect) – AWW+NOOYOON


www.nooyoon.com

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