Janet Echelman creates aerial sculptures at the scale of buildings and city blocks. Echelman’s art transforms with wind and light, and shifts from being “an object you look at, into an experience you can get lost in.”
Janet Echelman (b. 1966) creates aerial sculptures at the scale of buildings and city blocks from her studio in Boston. Her work defies categorization, as it intersects sculpture, architecture, urban design, material science, structural & aeronautical engineering, and computer science. Echelman’s art transforms with wind and light, and shifts from being “an object you look at, into an experience you can get lost in.” Using unlikely materials from atomized water particles to engineered fiber fifteen times stronger than steel, Echelman combines ancient craft with modern design software to create artworks that have become focal points for urban life on five continents, from Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai, and Santiago, to Beijing, Boston, New York and London.
1.78 is the title of Echelman’s sculpture installation that will be suspended high above Senate Square in downtown Helsinki. It is part of Echelman’s Earthtime series – works based on scientific data that are meant to remind us of our complex interconnectedness with larger cycles of time and the systems of our physical world.
The number in the title refers to the number of microseconds that the Earth’s day was shortened as a result of a single physical event – the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates which caused an earthquake and tsunami, and also shifted the speed of the earth’s rotation.
Photo 1: Bruce Petschek
Photo 2: Janet Echelman, 1.78 Madrid, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and Studio Echelman. Photo by João Ferrand.
Echelman’s sculpture will be accompanied by sound artist Tuomas Norvio’s sound installation Empathy for the Fish and Others. The installation will combine an underwater soundscape, streamed from Vallisaari Island, and wind data simultaneously measured at the Senate Square.
The 1.78 sound installation will be audible to visitors daily at the Senate Square via a public address system; at night, it can be listened to via headphones connected to a mobile device.
On 19 August, the opening night of Helsinki Festival 2021, Echelman’s sculpture and a concert by Hildá Länsman, Tapani Rinne, and Tuomas Norvio will be accompanied by a unique world of sounds and visuals driven by live wind data.
Tuomas Norvio’s sound installation and the concert by Länsman, Norvio, and Rinne is a collaboration between Helsinki Biennial and Helsinki Festival.
Artwork location: Senaatintori Square 31.7.–31.8.2021
Fiber, Buildings and Sky combined with Colored Lighting. Fibers are braided with nylon and UHMWPE (Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene)
© Janet Echelman
Studio Echelman Team: Melissa Henry