Making art is a joyous, rewarding, and sometimes daunting compulsion. Occasionally I find myself taking on a challenge that is bigger than me, trusting that following my heart will not steer me wrong, and that the path will unfold before me. This is the case with my experience of creating Cryochrome for the Coachella Festival this year.
This sculpture was inspired by fantastic images of the ice caves of Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. When I saw these images I was in awe, and that sensation is what I aspire to capture.
I find amazement in nature and geometry, and wanted to immerse people in a experience derived of those caves. I dreamed of an abstraction of color that played on perception, to create something that tapped into multiple senses simultaneously. So often in art we look at something, interpret it but I feel that the memorable visceral experience is what humans seek.
The creation of this sculpture was the most ambitious undertaking I have ever chosen and in a matter of 3 months the piece would be complete. When something like this begins you quickly realize how big it really is. It is so hard to believe when you are in the process of such a overwhelming endeavor that it will end, and the enormity of the goal is so big all you can do is take one step at a time and focus on the steps before you. There are so many processes and engineering challenges in something of this scale it is humbling. To me, being an artist is not just letting it go, and having it arrive complete later; I take pride in being involved in every step of the process. It is the journey of befriending new people, learning new processes, and pushing my own personal boundaries, these are the things I strive to achieve from each artistic journey. In this experience I had the additional opportunity to learn the dynamic of having 100’s of thousands people in the venue where the art is to be displayed and experience the chaos of about 70,000 walking through and experiencing it. This witness of human behavior on such a grand scale will definitely influence my ideas on art for the future.
It is amazing to me how our senses work in scale and perception. The immersion of this piece was paramount to the experience because the illusion was to be captured inside the art. The outer and inner designs were both rooted on a simple repeating pattern and the effectiveness of a precise pattern on our perception. How humans see patterns, relate to them and ultimately perceive them is a concept I am magnetized towards. I find it fascinating how there are some designs humans have a primal connection to.
The skin was a true labor of love, probably more than any other part. So many beautiful people came to help with this phase of the project, more than any other. There were approximately 22,000 CD’s that we retrieved from a recycling facility. Even with the precise predrilling of the panels by machine it was still the human hands that chose each disc for color and populated to the panels. The joy that was invested in those panels by each person was beautiful, and the result was a seamless shimmering mirror, designed to insulate the interior and help keep it cool but also reflect light in magical ways. Depending on the time of day the sculpture would ignite into prisms of color and I am still thrilled with its execution.
The importance of the CD’s was critical to me largely because in my experience light based pieces of this scale at large events have little presence during the day. This was not an option for me, the sculpture must have beauty day or night, it had to beckon the inquisitive mind to investigate and discover. That is the piece. Of course at night the sculpture was alive with color and the interior was an intense experience.
The truss system used was always designed to be hidden within the shells of the piece, but nothing else would have allowed for us to manifest such a structure in so little time with confidence in its integrity. Additionally we were able to capitalize on its construction methods for our mechanical systems. I am still amazed how well everything came together, of course there were complications but nothing unsurmountable. Virtually designing additional components to integrate into a this rented system had its concerns but we were fortunate that the specifications were all accurate.
This sculpture is a evolution of my pursuit of immersion.