08 March 2011

1.26 by Janet Echelman


Photo: Janet Echelman

Janet Echelman’s 230-foot-long aerial sculpture “1.26” suspends from the roof of the 7-story Denver Art Museum above downtown street traffic to commemorate the inaugural Biennial of the Americas. 
Echelman drew inspiration from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s announcement that the February 2010 Chile earthquake shortened the length of the earth’s day by 1.26 microseconds by slightly redistributing the earth’s mass. Exploring further, Echelman drew on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) simulation of the earthquake’s ensuing tsunami, using the 3-dimensional form of the tsunami’s amplitude rippling across the Pacific as the basis for her sculptural form. See more;

The temporary nature of the Biennial and its accelerated timeline precluded the artist’s use of a permanent steel armature, as employed in the artist’s previous monumental permanent commissions. Instead, “1.26” pioneers a tensile support matrix of Spectra® fiber, a material 15 times stronger than steel by weight. This low-impact, super-lightweight design made it possible to temporarily attach the sculpture directly to the façade of the Denver Art Museum, and this structural system opens up a new trajectory for the artist’s work in urban airspace.

Because this monumental sculpture is made entirely of soft materials, it is animated by the wind. Its fluidly moving form contrasts with the rigid surfaces of the surrounding urban architecture. At night, colored lighting transforms the work into a floating, luminous form while darkness conceals the support cables. 

Materials, fiber, high-tenacity polyester fiber, and lighting.


Photo: Janet Echelman


Photo: Peter Vanderwarker


Photo: Janet Echelman


Photo: Mark Davis


Photo: Peter Vanderwarker


Photo: Peter Vanderwarker


Watercolor: Courtesy Janet Echelman Inc.


Watercolor: Courtesy Janet Echelman Inc.