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Janet Echelman’s sculpture installation 1.78 rises high above Senate Square

Helsinki Biennial brings Janet Echelman’s artwork 1.78 to Senate Square from 31 July to 31 August. The artwork is accompanied by a sound installation and a concert as part of a collaboration between Helsinki Biennial and Helsinki Festival.

Janet Echelman (b. 1966) creates aerial sculptures at the scale of buildings and city blocks from her studio in Boston. She combines ancient craft with modern design software through collaboration with e.g. structural engineers and city planners. Thanks to her combination of highly-engineered fibres with traditional textile craftmanship, the voluminous aerial sculptures float weightlessly in the air yet can withstand strong winds and extreme weather.

1.78 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.

1.78’s sculptural form is inspired by the mapping of weight height data across an oceanic expanse, and the layers of colourful fibre, braided and knotted together, pulse with changing wind and weather. At night, the sculpture comes to life with projected coloured light.

Sound installation and concert in collaboration with Helsinki Festival

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 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 LänsmanTapani 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.

Photo: Janet Echelman: 1.78, Senate Square, Helsinki, 2021. ©Ella Tommila/HAM/Helsinki Biennial 2021