Air Garden

Submitted by Benjamin Ball

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Client: City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs

Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team

Artist, Project Manager, Fabrication/Installation

Benjamin Ball

Ball-Nogues Studio

Commissioning Entity Project Manager

Confidential

City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs

Overview

Air Garden embodies qualities of light and space. It does not have a distinct beginning or end; it is both an object and an atmosphere. Its appearance is not static as it is predicated on changing quality of light in the north light well at any hour of the day. Air Garden is a serene moment amidst the hectic action and movement within the airport, a pause within this movement; a place for reflection and repose, an opportunity for the traveler to daydream. Within the confines of passport kiosks, security checkpoints, ticket counters, and other forms surveillance and control, it is our aim for this work to engender a sense of freedom Like most gardens, it cannot be comprehended from a single point of view; and by participating in the ambulatory movement customary to the airport experience; it is inherently linked to the trajectory of one’s journey. Its components are made of gestural volumes of color hovering within an immense array of catenaries. These voluminous brush strokes on a translucent three dimensional canvas dissolve into washes of color then snap back into clear strokes with one’s changing perspective.

Dimensions: 52’ x 16’ x 87’
Materials: stainless steel ball-chain, enamel paint

Goals

Our hope is that Air Garden procures a mental clearing for the voyager that is a respite from the pressures of travel and produce a felicitous condition for daydreaming. The work is like a cloud inside the light well, which can be clearly described using a term from chemistry: suspension. A suspension is a heterogeneous fluid or gas with solid particles more or less evenly dispersed within in it. It is not opaque but more like a ubiquitous fog permeating the space. Therefore, the Air Garden will not obstruct the viewers’ perspective through the light well nor into the surrounding spaces that showcase the human activities of the airport. While the environment is interspersed with the metallic bead chain catenaries, it is also constructed from the negative space between the catenaries; sight extends into and throughout the building.

Process

When developing the color composition of Air Garden we looked at the organization inherent in the architecture. We intend to shape color in three dimensions to echo the architectural order of the Bradley West Terminal by mimicking the shadows cast onto the array of catenaries by the structure members of the light well itself. We chose two dates at which to cast the shadows, the summer solstice and the vernal equinox. To better understand the effectiveness of the hovering colored forms within the Air Garden we applied our findings from precursory research on theories of perception. Testing in Gestalt psychology has proven that our mind puts together what is not explicitly present and imposes meaning and structure on visual input. These theories support our assumption that the traveler will mentally connect the architectural order of the building across the void of the light well by way of color painted onto the cloud of bead chain. For this reason, we are able to achieve a visual connection without having to precisely replicate the geometry of the building but rather to imply its presence.