Latent Energy

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Client: Sam Houston State University

Location: Huntsville, TX, United States

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $220,000

Project Team

Artist

Joe O'Connell

Creative Machines

Artist

Creative Machines

Creative Machines

Overview

Latent Energy is a colorful, illuminated, site-specific science-themed sculpture depicting a portion of a hydrocarbon molecule transitioning from its liquid to its solid form.

Goals

Latent Energy depicts a portion of a hydrocarbon molecule transitioning from its liquid to its solid form. This transition is characterized by the release of energy and an expansion in volume. This is the phase transition that Fred Pirkle used in much of his work, the namesake of the building it adorns. The sculpture also imagines students developing personal structure through upper education and growth. The ‘phase transition’ that occurs in students as they reach a more solid state is also accompanied by a release of energy as they mature.

The large spheres in Latent Energy correspond to carbon atoms. The small spheres correspond to hydrogen atoms. The two small molecules on the lawn are both methane, the smallest hydrocarbon molecule, each with one carbon atom. The tall structure shows a portion of a longer hydrocarbon molecule moving from a liquid to a solid form. The solid form is characterized by a linear chain of carbon atoms, each of which has two hydrogen atoms attached to it.

Additional Information

13' W x 9' D x 25' H