Swarm

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Client: Scottsdale Public Art

Location: Scottsdale, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2020

Project Team

Public Art Manager

Jennifer Gill

Scottsdale Public Art

Artist

Toby Plunkett

toyStudio

Matthew Hannon

Hannon Rigging and Production

City of Scottsdale

Director

Kim Boganey

Scottsdale Public Art

Jim Duncan

Salt River Project

Overview

“Swarm” by U.K.-based toyStudio, is a suspended light sculpture that was created for the large-scale public art event, Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light in Scottsdale, Arizona. This site-specific installation was created to express the flocking behavior found in birds and fish through the movement of light. Suspended above the Arizona Canal, the sculpture consisted of a series of programmable, 3-foot long LED tubes that were attached to a spiraling 60-foot long steel spine. During the day, the swarming behavior was expressed by the sculptural form of the opaque tubes. At night, the artwork would come alive as the illuminated Swarm reflects in the water.

Goals

Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light is a free public art event presented by Scottsdale Public Art at the Scottsdale Waterfront. Each year, Scottsdale Public Art seeks artwork proposals for Canal Convergence that integrate the themes of water, art, and light into engaging, large-scale, temporary public art installations. For 2019, Scottsdale Public Art included an additional thematic focus for the event: The Story of Water. “Swarm” successfully activated these themes through creating a light-based sculpture that told the story of water in nature. Fish and many other water-based animals exhibit swarming behavior for a variety of reasons. The artist translated that behavior into “Swarm” and brought it above the surface of the water to be visible to Canal Convergence viewers. The form of the artwork is also like that of a river, or a canal, flowing through the landscape.

Process

Scottsdale Public Art worked with artists toyStudio, Hannon Rigging & Production, Sirius Structures, the City of Scottsdale, and Salt River Project over a period of eight months to realize the “Swarm” installation. Scottsdale Public Art worked with the City of Scottsdale and Salt River Project to secure all event and installation approvals and permits. Once the concept and design had been finalized, and the rigging plan had been approved by a structural engineer, the installation of this artwork took place over ten days. The artists, Scottsdale Public Art, and Hanson Rigging and Production assembled and suspended the artwork above the canal. When all the sections were finished and connected, lead artist Toby Plunkett finalized all the lighting sequence programs.

Additional Information

toyStudio is a London-based design collective with a desire to create interesting and original pieces across the fields of art, architecture, and design. Founded in 2016 by Innes Shelley and Toby Plunkett, the studio uses digital tools for analysis, form generation, and fabrication. Plunkett and Shelley embrace a desire to create, craft, and champion new ideas, stories, and experiences for themselves and others—welcoming both challenges and opportunities. They believe in a collaborative method to generate and develop innovative projects with their clients and network of creative practitioners.