Soaring Solids

Soaring Solids Concept DrawingDescription Of Project

What is it?

A flexible transparent air supported structure - a see through room. Inside are large colorful lightweight inflated geometric blocks and currents of air swirling up. People go inside and bounce the blocks up where they interact with the air currents. The blocks float up and fall slowly back to be bounced up again.

What does it look like?

A transparent cylinder with a drawn in waist, a cooling tower. It looks big and organic. It moves and sways. There are people inside and they are batting up these huge colorful blocks. The blocks soar way up to the ceiling, and then they float down and swirl around as they float down to get batted up by someone else. One block is suspended so it is always moving - drawing people in to participate.

What does it do?

It sucks in air at the bottom. (People walk into it by walking through a breezeway.) It blows air out at the top. The pressure differential keeps the structure inflated. It swirls and rocks with the turbulence of the wind. It helps people play with these large geometric blocks. It catches the blocks, and holds them for a moment, only to let them slip back to the waiting players.

How do children interact with it?

They walk in with the wind at their backs, and they throw these huge (very light) inflated fabric geometric blocks up into the air. The combination of their throwing and the fans blowing send the block way up into the air, but the fans can't support the block by themselves, so the solids fall slowly back. The kids watch this huge thing blot out their whole field of vision. They put their hands instinctively up for protection, and then when the block seems about to crush them they push it up, and it soars into the air. When they are done, they push their way out against the wind.

What are the materials used?

Transparent or semi-transparent vinyl for the structure. Fans and their enclosures arranged to form the entryways, and Kite fabric to form the floating blocks.

Why is this a work of art for children?

Kids see it from a distance and are immediately attracted to the size, the movement, and the color. The acceleration and deceleration caused by wind against gravity create graceful movement of the blocks. The blocks rotate, and the dominant color changes. Kids love to feel the wind. They are awed by the huge size of the blocks. They are more awed that the huge blocks drop on them, and more amazed still that they can bat these huge things up into the air -- so high. They watch them float down, and try to position themselves to bat it up again, but it isn't floating straight down, it is being tossed by the wind, so it is a challenge. A full body challenge. It is like they are a little tiny part of a huge toy.

Carlie releasing a 5-foot cubeWhat can children learn from this work of art?

Children can learn about the force of wind, they can feel it, they can see it. Where the structure gets narrower the air moves faster. They judge the speed of an approaching block. They discover that big things don't have to be heavy. They experience the chaos of the wind's turbulence. They feel the wind and air pressure supporting the structure and inflating the block.

Is there any label text to accompany it?

No explanation is needed, but any of the concepts I mention could be introduced in way of explanation.

What projects have you completed in the past that are relevant to this project?

Floating Sold: A 5-foot inflated cube attached to a line and pole that we carried in a parade. Everyone flocked to push the cube into the air, sometimes reaching heights of 30 feet. We allowed the block to land in the midst of the crowd where hands would bat it up.

Tubular Expressions: Three plastic air-supported tetrahedrons ranging in size from 30 to 40 feet in height connected with 8 foot high tubes that people could walk through.

Urban Wind Star: A 30-foot facet kite tethered in an urban corridor -- A large airborne sculpture that uses turbulent winds around skyscrapers for its dynamic display. 

A less ambitious project on the same theme.

This proposal with the wind tunnel is the optimum way to enjoy Soaring Solids, and will create the best artistic and learning environment. Another beautiful, but less complex way to enjoy the blocks is to attach them to fixed flexible poles with elastic cord. This would be less expensive than building an enclosed wind cylinder for them, and could be augmented with fans.

I enjoy designing projects to fit their environment, and would be happy to design an interactive sculpture to meet the needs of your space.