Client: R. D. Olson and City of Huntington Beach
Location: Huntington Beach, United States
Completion date: 2016
Artwork budget: $450,000
pacificBecoming is an aesthetic contemplation of the ocean and the unseen forces at work that shape it, a reflection on its power and beauty, and a visual meditation on our relationship to it.
The 60' high media canvas located on the main façade of the Pasea Hotel overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It combines data-driven content, generative animations and aerial & 4K cinematography. Realtime tide levels, wave height, currents, temperature and turbulence inform this dynamic representation of the ocean. Its custom platform links content to data and time of day creating a fusion of digital content, public space and nature.
Huntington Beach is going through a process of transition and major development. Its downtown has retained a small beachtown feel, but the artwork is located in a recently developed area with a focus on tourism. The goal of this project was to bring visibility to the new development along Pacific Coast Highway while making a strong connection to the broader community of Huntington Beach. The hotel façade facing downtown was selected as the installation site in order to strengthen that connection. Due to the artwork’s large scale and siting it is viewed not only by hotel guests and staff but as far away as downtown and the pier. To create an artwork that would achieve our goals and truly capture the spirit of this beachtown we focused on the one common thing that bridged new and old – the ocean. pacificBecoming is a layering of video documentation shot over a one year period with realtime animations driven by ocean data. It is a cinematic narrative of site and community, and like the ocean, it changes minute by minute - reflecting tide levels, wave height, currents, temperature and turbulence. Ocean temperatures are revealed through subtle shifts in particle turbulence and color.
This was the first public art commission for the City of Huntington Beach and we worked closely with city staff and officials to help establish the parameters for the project. We held meetings with the city cultural and historical liaison to gain an in depth understanding of the community and better represent its spirit. Our studio production team spent 12 months documenting the site and community of Huntington Beach using state of the art aerial and 4K videography equipment. To ensure that the artwork would be legible and meaningful to viewers close by at the hotel and as far away as the pier, we photographed the installation site from all possible views and produced realistic mockups of the artwork to test the content from all perspectives. This informed the project throughout our design process. Technically this project has many parts that all needed to come together in realtime. We worked closely with our developer Tommy Etkin on an interface that would seamlessly harnesses and analyze the incoming data and transform it into a generative artwork. A custom platform layered the realtime content with pre-rendered video to create pacificBecoming.