03. Nov 2016

“Where We Met” in Greensboro, North Carolina/US

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag

Photos: Joshua Spitzig


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Flora and fauna – as original and at the same time revolutionary though they may be – are an immeasurable source of inspiration for us humans. And the artistic yet practical installation entitled “Where We Met”, designed by Janet Echelman, can indeed be associated with a masterpiece from the animal kingdom: the net sculpture, which comprises a mass of woven twine and rope, immediately gives rise to associations with a giant cobweb. It is strategically anchored at specific points and billows in the wind or floats elegantly above bushes glittering with morning dew.

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“Where We Met” is installed in LeBauer Park in Greensboro, North Caroline/US and is made of over 20 kilometres of dyed threads tied together in 242,800 knots. 500 metres of rope were used for the bracing of the net structure and to tie the installation into place. The artificial spider’s web is suspended over a central grassed area where people like to lie and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine during the daytime. Here it develops a dynamic of its own – blowin’ in the wind, so to speak, while securely fastened to sturdy anchor points. “Where We Met” is part of an overall plan to redesign LeBauer Park and is first and foremost an unlit sculpture that speaks for itself. But it is made of special reinforced fibres that are 15 times stronger than steel of the same weight and glow in different colours which remain unusually colourfast and resistant to sunlight and UV radiation, however strong the wind is blowing.

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After dark, when light is added in the form of LED luminaires, the installation develops new and highly impressive qualities. In the daytime, the web is practically transparent: the sky can be seen in the background and the coloured threads, although still attractive, become a little faded, and somehow get lost – together with the entire web structure, in fact – against the bright, daylit surroundings, but generating interesting, flexible shadow patterns on the ground, which are equally fascinating for viewers to enjoy. As the day draws to a close and night-time takes over, the structure is illuminated by LEDs mounted on poles that light the sculpture from beneath. The web appears to become more voluminous. It is not so much the shadows on the ground that fascinate the onlookers as is the case by day, but rather the inner, idiosyncratic shadows inherent to the art piece itself, together with the various billowing shapes and continuous movement that enraptures passers-by after dark. The colours of the threads glow like neon colours, intense and bright, and create new dimensions between the “heavens” and the earth. In daylight under cloudless skies, the horizontal blue stripes worked into the web are perceived as gaps or openings in the net, while at night against a dark background and illuminated by LED luminaires they visually structure the otherwise wildly fluctuating shapes the web generates when in motion, and support the viewer’s effort to gain a true perception of the changing shapes and forms and understand what the sculpture is all about. This was one of the challenges the team of lighting designers from Focus Lighting faced when working on this project. The generally uneven shape of the sculpture provided limited surface area that would lend itself to illumination. The team therefore embarked on a number of tests to determine exactly how much light and what colours or colour temperatures would be appropriate to make it stand out at night while adhering to fulfilling the artist’s intention. The designers resolved to apply a custom mix of coloured LEDs without filters, and ultimately found a ratio of colours that produced the desired result: 19 per cent blue, 37 per cent red, and 44 per cent white. This combination of colours allowed for maximum brightness, while the individual LED colours enhanced each and every thread, enabling the viewer to perceive the shape and intention of the coloured web to the full.

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“Where We Met” radiates positive energy into its surroundings. An artistically spun web whose form, colours and lighting attract the attention of every passer-by. Whereas a spider weaves its web to capture its next meal, this enchanting artistic installation is designed to fascinate and delight, creating a bright and friendly place for people to meet in the park.


Artist: Janet Echelman

Lighting design: Focus Lighting

Products applied: Amerlux


www.echelman.com

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