Janet Echelman’s recent installation in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, is an enormous spectacle, even by the artist’s standards. This one spanned 745 feet between the 24-story Fairmont Waterfront and the Vancouver Convention Center. Constructed of twisted nylon, braided polyester and interactive, colored lighting, “Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks” is a complex matrix of 860,000 hand and machine-made knots and 145 miles of the braided fiber weighing nearly 3,500 pounds. To support the artwork across such a large span, Echelman utilized Honeywell Spectra fiber, a lightweight, durable material 15 times stronger than steel by weight.
Beyond its spectacular size, this sculpture added interactivity, created in collaboration with artist Aaron Koblin, creative director of the Data Arts Team in Google’s Creative Lab. At night the sculpture came to life as visitors were able to choreograph the lighting in real time using physical gestures on their mobile devices. In the daytime, the sculpture’s delicate form blends in with clouds and sky.
The sculpture will travel to cities around the globe when it leaves Vancouver.