Herald Heart

Submitted by Ebon Heath

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Project

Client: Hyatt Hotel

Location: New York, United States

Completion date: 2014

Project Team

Artist

Ebon Heath

Client

Hyatt Hotel

Overview

A suspended sculpture welcoming hotel guests with words that tell stories of Herald Square's past and present (with a clear relationship to the neighborhoods historical newspaper and fashion industry). This sculpture is approximately one meter in diameter and is made of laser-cut walnut wood letters on stainless steel rods connected to a casted aluminum foam core. The content of the text is an original poem of 151 sentences woven together. The structure is suspended from a single point that allows it to rotate freely and come alive as guests enter, exposing all asymmetrical angles to reveal its hidden stories.

Goals

Visually the walnut wood letters relate to the material choices found in the surrounding lobby area pallet. The typefaces used references wooden letterpress of printing presses, bold headlines from posters at the turn of the century, and text found in newspapers. Type is used throughout the hotel, from old wood specimens as door signage and carpet patterns. The content of the words is a poem written by the artist that reflects: the past and present of the area and its founders, the iconography and staff of The New York Herald Tribune, and a referential section of dialogue from the Jean-Luc Godard film Breathless. Collectively the content and aesthetic of this sculpture creates a unique cohesion to the vision of the interior designer and the larger historical context of the neighborhood.

Process

This process began with countless sketches and models to define the form and its structural integrity. Sketches were then transformed into digital models to resolve the engineering and appearance within the interior designers rendering. Extensive research into the history of the local area and its references in popular culture was done to define the basis of the poetic word cloud. To produce the needed materials it required working with carpenters to cut down aged walnut wood into 3mm thick planks (then oiling and sanding the surfaces to bring out the natural colors). The final vector art of the type was then laser cut and assembled on 2.5mm steel rods. We worked with fabricators to create a 20cm casted aluminum foam sphere with 151 equidistant holes to fit the steel rods. This was shipped to New York and installed on site over 8 days. Because of the fragility of materials and quantity of components this was on of the most complex installations the artist has completed.