Space Needle

“Sonic Bloom” a new Interactive artwork showcases solar, sound and education at the foot of the Space Needle

In the playful context of Seattle Center’s festival groundsSonic Bloom is a new energy-neutral permanent interactive art installation at the foot of Seattle’s Space Needle and a defining entry sculpture to the Pacific Science Center. The signature sculpture is designed to demonstrate the science of solar energy in an accessible way as well as becoming a new icon for Seattle Center.

“Sonic Bloom” is a solar-powered work of art created by Dan Corson for the Pacific Science Center on behalf of Seattle City Light’s Green Up program, which supports the development of new renewable energy sources.

The project is composed of 5 super-sized flowers (up to 40’ tall and 20’ across) sporting frosted acrylic petals that glow like glass when backlit.  Mounted on the top of each painted flower head are 46 locally made photo voltaic cells. These solar cells collect the energy from the sun and are fed back into the electrical grid and completely offset the energy-efficient LED lighting and speaker electrical consumption for the project.

“There’s a myth that solar power won’t work in Seattle” said artist Dan Corson. “But even with our often cloudy weather, solar works well here”. The challenge was going beyond simple rooftop installations and engaging people with solar

After dark, the sculptures make a dramatic illuminated presence, revealing the domed undersides of the flowers as dynamic illuminated surfaces awash in moving color and concentric echo-inspired patterns. The backlit painted fiberglass diffuses the energy-efficient LED lights and creates an interesting patterned surface in the daytime.

The title Sonic Bloom refers not only to our defining location “on the Puget Sound” but also to the artwork itself that sings as the public approaches each flower.  Every flower has its own distinctive series of harmonic notes simulating a singing chorus. A hidden sensor located in each flower identifies movement and triggers the sound.  So if there are 5 people engaging the flowers together, it is possible to compose and conduct music together or by walking through, randomly set off a harmonic sequence.

The colorful striped stalks of the flowers not only accentuate the curved stems, but are also actual “barcodes” that can be deciphered by inquisitive sleuths motivated to decode the super-sized puzzle.

Seattle, with its mild maritime climate, hosts some of the most enthusiastic gardeners in the country. The artist is not only a self-described “plant geek” and has created an award-winning garden featured in a number of magazines, but has also created the garden concept for the planting beds below the sculptures as well.  The Sonic Bloom garden is designed for a year-round viewing highlighting certain flowers and color combinations that echo the sculptures every season.

Interpretive signage at the exhibition and inside Pacific Science Center explains how solar energy works and shows in real-time how it is powering the flowers.

Artist Stacy Levy unveils “Straw Garden”

This post comes to you from Green Public Art
Stacy Levy's Straw GardenAs a sculptor, Stacy Levy uses art as a vehicle for translating the patterns and processes of the natural world into the language of human understanding. Her projects are designed so that the site tells the ecological story of itself. Meshing the clarity of maps and diagrams, and the accessibility of science with the visceral sense of the site, Levy tries to create an instant wonder and understanding for the viewer.

Straw Garden is a six month project at the Seattle Center in Seattle, WA. The piece is made of erosion control wattles, in the shape of a baroque garden that spools out into a watershed form; all planted in native species of perennials and shrubs. At the end of the exhibition and the growing season, the garden will be divided and delivered to other landscapes in need of restoration and erosion control.

Straw Garden uses modern landscape restoration materials in a baroque garden configuration. The symmetrical parterre are based on Le Notre’s design for Versailles. The straw wattles are most commonly used for sedimentation control while the coir (coconut fiber) wattles are used for erosion control, on slopes and stream banks. The baroque garden relied on two views, from within the garden and from high above in the manor house. This new garden also has multiple vantages: the lawn, and the elevated views from the monorail and space needle. This temporary work will have a second life as a plant source for landscapes that need restoration and native plant diversity. In several years the wattles will biodegrade, while the native perennials continue to take root and thrive.

Straw Garden is part of The Next Fifty Seattle Center 2012, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, exploring critical issues affecting the Pacific Northwest and the world, and creating synergies that inspire a shared future vision.

Rebecca Ansert, founder of Green Public Art, is an art consultant who specializes in artist solicitation, artist selection, and public art project management for both private and public agencies. She is a graduate of the master’s degree program in Public Art Studies at the University of Southern California and has a unique interest in how art can demonstrate green processes or utilize green design theories and techniques in LEED certified buildings.

Green Public Art is a Los Angeles-based consultancy that was founded in 2009 in an effort to advance the conversation of public art’s role in green building. The consultancy specializes in public art project development and management, artist solicitation and selection, creative community involvement and knowledge of LEED building requirements. Green Public Art also works with emerging and mid-career studio artists to demystify the public art process. The consultancy acts as a resource for artists to receive one-on-one consultation before, during, and after applying for a public art project.
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