The Third Space of Creation with Engineered Artworks

The Third Space of Creation with Engineered Artworks

San Francisco Bay area is one of America’s best-known culture centers, generating influence worldwide, standing at the bridge where a natural paradise meets entrepreneurship, technology, and scientific excellence. The arts have always had to invent their way forward in this competitive atmosphere, cutting new pathways toward sustainability and service. Building on relationships old and new, Engineered Artworks emerged over the last decade (+plus) as a forward-thinking, community-minded art fabrication company creating unique installations. They work versitaly to support the arts community from concept, to production, to the installation, maintenance, and touring of complex works. From mobile art fantasies to mathematical, sculptural puzzles, Engineered Artworks serves a unique vision of how to create in public.

You may recognize EA’s work from high-profile mobile art vehicles featured at Burning Man, or
from large, volunteer-based community projects they’ve created through the embedded non-profit Five Ton Crane Arts Group. “Five Ton Crane” suggests the heavy lifting that can be accomplished not by one, but by many. As such, 5TC is designed for “pooling resources, interests and talent to create opportunities for bigger, better, and bolder Art”. “Capitol Theater”, which premiered at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in 2018, is a 1920’s art deco movie theater on wheels, built structurally from the ground up, an homage to the role of silent film and craftsmanship that stands the test of time.The theater is immersive, complete with custom black and white movies, a ticketing booth, concession stand with designer treats, and velveteen seating. It’s a project where historical realism meets contemporary need, a reverence for the past that revives collective memory, infusing it with vitality and presence.

Perhaps your style is more whimsical. You would enjoy the world’s most realistic mobile dragon, featuring breath of fire and a 60-foot hydraulic wingspan that retracts proportionate to real-life bilateral flight motion. 210,000 programmable LED lights are embedded beneath an innovative scale-like sheath. Engineered Artworks partnered with private clients for “Elektra”, collaborating with 60 artists and engineers from concept to execution. Along the way, a new material was invented, a flexible webbing that allowed its wings to have controllable LED embedment with a 3D-mapping system for programmed content. The finished kinetic sculpture weighs 14 tons and clocks in at 20 feet high, with the ability to carry up to 20 passengers.

EA’s founders remark, “We’re not brought in to make gates or square angles. We are called on to devise creative solutions for complex problems. There’s no real road map for what we are creating… but we bring a diversity of experience from previous projects.” This includes the combined expertise of all its artists and community members, as well as the company’s founders, all formally trained and experienced artists themselves.

A year ago, Engineered Artworks transitioned from West Oakland to Seaport Studios, a 12,000 square-foot warehouse in Richmond, CA that includes outdoor space. They’ve subdivided part of the building into individual artist studios for a vast range of disciplines, from painting, to sculpture, to glasswork, blacksmithing, welding, fabrication, carpentry, LED lighting, pyrotechnics, and robotics. The site houses a gallery, available for use by all resident artists at Seaport Studios. Engineered Artworks provides mentorship opportunities, workshops, fiscal sponsorship, and residencies. They’ve even recently founded a trucking company, Artifact Logistics LLC, that specializes in the transport of touring artwork. The company continues to ask the question, “what do artists need?” as a foundation for their ongoing development. Their ability to adapt and make excellent use of their community skill set is testament to the creativity that flows not just through their artwork, but through the collective and economic structures they’ve developed.

An artist might come to Engineered Artworks with a general concept for the team to reverse-engineer, as was the case with “Dahlia” (2023) a pair of illuminated, wall-mounted sculptures by artist, designer, and Stanford educator John Edmark. Edmark’s work explores mathematical concepts found in nature, such as the golden ratio, in this case building off the angular form “phi”. Adding progressively smaller petals on a rotation of 137.5 degrees, there are over one thousand unique parts, and no two petals are the same. Made from backlit aluminum plates illuminated by programmable LEDs, the light reveals spirals, like mandalas, meant to evoke curiosity and present universal order, bringing something sacred into form. Its presence at The Royal Atlantis Hotel in Dubai, the most expensive hotel ever built in the world, speaks to the sophistication and execution of its concept and form.

Highlighting the depth of Engineered Artworks’ capacity for mathematical complexity, “Stella” (2023) is a massive, steel and acrylic star, a stellated icosahedron, that hangs over the entryway of the newly opened Kiewit Luminarium in Omaha, Nebraska. Made of colored and mirrored acrylic, the piece is structured by Schedule 80 three-inch metal tubes CNC’d so that ten pipes might converge seamlessly into one weldment. As a sculpture, it represents an intricate puzzle. As an aesthetic object, it’s a sunlit kaleidoscope of celestial curiosity.

Engineered Artworks is driven by a desire to create art for the public that resonates deeply and communicates effectively, with immersive, kinetic, and interactive elements. The depth of their in-house team positions them to enter seamlessly at any point in the process, supporting artists, foundations, developers, architects, and city agencies to produce permanent and temporary public and civic art projects. Their founders remark upon the level of intricate detail that can be created with many hands and well-honed talents; this goes beyond what a single artist can imagine. It is the metaphoric “third space” where the company meets the community, alchemizing something inherently new. With an understanding that relationships, physical engagement, and performativity are all essential tools of creation, Engineered Artworks transforms the work of artists and their community.