Wings Over Water

Submitted by Joe O'Connell

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Client: Houston Arts Alliance, Houston First Corporation

Location: Houston, TX, United States

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $1,400,000

Project Team

Artist

Joe O'Connell

Creative Machines

Artist

Creative Machines

Creative Machines

Overview

Wings Over Water is a monumental kinetic sculpture integrated into a fountain outside of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. The sculpture was inspired by the theme of migration, which is one of the governing metaphors behind the architectural re-design of the convention center. The massive scale and dynamic movement turns the sculpture and fountain into an iconic destination. The sculpture is composed of two massive wings that beat continuously creating the sense of progress and movement. Around the world, the symbol of birds flying into the air has cultural and spiritual associations representing hope.

Goals

The monumental sculpture creates unique views from every sight line and also for viewers looking down from neighboring buildings. Due to the sculpture’s constant movement, the viewers' experience is also constantly changing thereby drawing visitors to the site to watch its evolution. During the day, the translucent wings will cast shadows onto the surface of the fountain and the surrounding hardscape. At night, the LED lighting will illuminate the translucent wings allowing the wings to be a kinetic beacon of light in the landscape. The sculpture's curvilinear forms will be in stark contrast to the largely orthogonal architecture that surrounds it. The perpetual motion of the wings creates an energetic focal point that invites viewers to watch the mesmerizing movement of the undulating surfaces. The piece also represents the connection between the environment and the urban landscape. The giant kinetic wings reflect the movement of birds, but achieves this effect through mechanical parts. The merging of the migration metaphor with a mechanical system embodies Houston’s unique integration of the natural world with the man-made. In addition, the intricate structure of the wings references Houston’s aerospace heritage.

Process

In nearly all of our public art projects, we have coordinated with city agencies, architects, engineers, and consultants to incorporate artwork into new or existing infrastructure. With the help of Houston First Corporation, Houston Arts Alliance, and the George R. Brown Convention Center, we were able to create and install Wings Over Water, one of our largest site-specific projects to date.

Additional Information

Dimensions: 70' x 25' x 30' Materials: aluminum, stainless steel, electronics, stamisol fabric