I am very pleased to post this video of work from the Air series taking center stage at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.
Two sheets of fabric continuously fly in and out of a vortex of air created in the center of a room.
In Magic Carpet, a large sheet of shimmery red fabric flies un-tethered in the center of a room, twisting and turning, rising and falling, coiling and unfurling, as it gracefully moves in and out of the vortex at the center of the air system. Magic Carpet currently appears in Amaluna, the Cirque du Soleil big top touring show as the first image of the opening scene, and again in a different incarnation, as the final, closing image of the show.
Feather Fountain involves bird’s feathers that rise up off of the mirror base and fly in a central column of air. The feathers spin vertically around their quills, before falling back onto the base, where they are swept towards the center and up again by a sheet of air emanating from all points around the base perimeter. The piece is lit by a single source of light, recessed in the ceiling directly overhead. The feathers create dark, dancing shadows in the bright circle on the ceiling, which is a reflection of that light off of the flat mirror of the base. The convex mirror at the center of the base, and the feathers on it, cast the less bright reflection and shadows across the ceiling and walls, encompassing the entire room. The soft patter that the quills make as they hit the glass is similar to the sound of rain on a roof, adding another dimension to the overall experience.
Expect some turbulence ahead...
A graceful sine wave of fabric is created above a parallel series of fans.
This video shows the creation of enormous waves of fabric and air that could be scaled up to fill an entire stadium floor and the air space above it. Variations on this concept can produce crashing tidal waves of fabric, tubes, giant moving bubbles, domes and what looks like constantly rising and falling mountain ranges, or sliding sand dunes in a fast forward version of geologic time. Used in a theatrical context, the fabric can be blown off stage over the audience's heads, left to float there, and then snapped, or very gracefully floated back onto the stage. The concepts described here are highly adaptable to different scales and spatial parameters.
In Snow, tens of thousands of Styrofoam peanuts are swept by fans into a great pile at the center of the room, and chaotically into the air above it- like a giant, room-sized snow-dome that one may enter. There is a strong interactive pull from this work, and people are naturally inclined to linger with it, to play, to walk through, to be buried, to tunnel through, or to just lay back, look up, and be snowed upon. Designed for the sole purpose of taking up space, used only once and discarded, styrofoam peanuts are non-biodgradeable. Light as a breeze, they are hard to contain and are ubiquitous in the environment. For these reasons, for me the styrofoam peanut is ironically symbolic of our mindlessly wasteful culture, manifest in a material of the least integrity.
Fog and fire are used to create tornadoes in the center of a room. The image to left is a fog tornado as it appears on stage in Robert Lepage's new play, Playing Cards 1: Spades.
This video of a six foot tall tornado was created for Marcel Wanders and Moooi BV, the Dutch design company, using their lamp/ventilator, the Mistral.
Shitstorm consists of newspapers, plastic shopping bags, bubble wrap, candy wrappers, balloons and ordinary litter from the street that circle endlessly in a vortex of air. A direct commentary on the degraded state of the environment, Shitstorm was specifically inspired by my concern about the Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Gyre, a huge area in the North Pacific Ocean with exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastics and other debris that have been trapped in this giant vortex of ocean currents.
In this piece, rose petals, tulip petals, maple seedpods, various other types of leaves, feathers, and a few colored Styrofoam peanuts are suspended in a vertical column of air. Eventually they fall into either the large polished, stainless steel funnel at the center, or onto the black Plexiglass top, where a viewer may easily push them back in to take flight again. The sound that these lightweight materials make, clinking against the funnel, is akin to rain falling on a tin roof. This piece exposes the aerodynamic properties of this natural detritus, and suspends it in a way that can be continuously observed.
In Two Balloons One Fan, two balloons are suspended and trapped in a vortex of air generated by a single fan pointed straight upward. A dance of sorts, or contest between them is created as they continually vie for the most stable position in this vertical air column. As an example of Bernoulli's Principle of fluid dynamics in action, because the air in the center of the column is moving faster than the air toward the outside, it has lower pressure. Just as an airplane wing is sucked up into the sky because the air moves faster over the top surface, the balloons are perpetually sucked back into the middle of the air stream as they simultaneously try to escape.