Fish Bellies

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Client: Texas State University

Location: San Marcos, TX, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team

Artist

Joe O'Connell

Creative Machines

Artist

Blessing Hancock

Artist

Creative Machines

Art Consultant

Art Artisans

Public Art Agent

Texas Tech University

Overview

Composed of layers of frosted acrylic, Fish Bellies’ large biomorphic forms draw inspiration from the social and biological diversity of the nearby San Marcos River reflecting parallels between its ecological life and the University’s varied student body. Formally, Fish Bellies mirrors the progression of an abstract school of fish. During the day, the piece’s translucency operates like an ethereal anatomy whereas at night it transforms into a bioluminescent landscape.

Goals

Our process begins with extensive research and analysis of the characteristics that make each site unique. We investigate local conditions such as natural systems, cultural touchstones, historical precedents, adjacent communities, and the surrounding architecture and landscape.

Fish Bellies is an organic tableau meant to spark additional interest in the unique biology found on campus. The piece generates a new student landmark inviting people to climb into and on top of the interlocking series of glowing enclosures. The sculpture encourages socialization while respecting individual space. The illuminated compartments form protective rooms that surround the inhabitant with colored light.

Fish Bellies represents a singular integration of monumental acrylic forms and interactive electronics. Embedded in each belly are two touch-sensitive controllers, which allow the public to transform the piece by curating the color and saturation levels of the internal LED lighting.

Process

Fish Bellies was a collaboration between artists, Joe O'Connell and Blessing Hancock, art consultants Art Artisans, Texas State University, Schneider Structural Engineers and the fabrication team at Creative Machines, Inc. Everyone believed in the same goal to create an interactive piece that encouraged the physical and social dynamic of residents using the courtyard. The collaborative process worked through many iterations including producing full-scale mock-ups tested in the site. Due to the piece’s implicit interactivity, the artists believe that the aesthetic collaboration continues beyond the piece’s installation. They invite community expression by encouraging visitors to design unique light sequences and coordinate patterns.

Additional Information

30' x 15' x 12' - 12 total