Location: Madrid, Spain
Completion date: 2018
Janet Echelman, Inc.
Janet Echelman, Inc.
“1.78” within the title references the number of microseconds the day was shortened when a single physical event shifted the earth’s mass, thus speeding up the planet’s rotation of one day. This work examines the complex interaction of the many systems of our physical world.
1.78 Madrid is composed of layers of highly engineered fiber that is 15 times stronger than steel by weight. The fiber is extruded in vibrant hues, then braided, knotted, and spliced together to create a volumetric form choreographed by changing wind and weather. At night, the sculpture comes to life with projected colored light.
Echelman’s goal as an artist with this work is to remind us of the many cycles of time at various scales, ranging from a single day to the 4 centuries that people have gathered in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. The artwork reminds us of our complex interconnectedness with larger cycles of time and the systems of our physical world. The sculpture’s materials embody this. When any one element in the sculpture’s network moves, every other element is affected. Our surroundings affect how we feel and how we experience our lives - we are responsible for the way our cities look and function. These netted works bring softness to the scale of the city. They are soft counterpoints to the hard edges of buildings, offering proof that we can interrogate the status quo - that the assumption that cities must be formed from hard materials and straight edges can be changed. “I feel a need to find moments of contemplation in the midst of daily city life,” Echelman said. “If my art can create an opportunity to contemplate the larger cycles of time and remind us to listen to our inner selves, I believe this can be the start of transformation.”
As the sculpture designs begin to unfold, our studio architects, designers and model-makers collaborate with an external team of aeronautical and structural engineers, computer scientists, lighting designers, landscape architects, and city planners to bring my initial sketches into reality. The artworks are fabricated through a combination of hand splicing and knotting together with industrial looms, and then installed on location.