From March 15 to March 22, a spectacular sight greeted residents of downtown Vancouver: a monumental net sculpture floating in the sky, spanning 745 feet between buildings. Created for the TED Conference’s 30th anniversary, the installation called Unnumbered Sparks is the result of a collaboration between artists Janet Echelman and Aaron Koblin. Woven from braided fibers, the ethereal net ripples and sways in the sky. The movements of the delicate form are affected by even the slightest change in the wind, creating a gently billowing mass of threads that subtly blends in with clouds, sky, and the surrounding urban landscape.
The sculpture is beautiful in the daytime, but truly dazzles once the sun has set. At nighttime, Unnumbered Sparks comes alive with illumination that is choreographed by visitors who gather beneath the net. Thanks to Koblin, who leads the Data Arts team in Google’s Creative Lab, the artwork is completely interactive. By making small movements on their mobile devices, visitors can paint spectacular beams of light that streak across the sculpture’s surface in real time.
This project embodies the infusion of art and technology, as both continuously evolve together. “I want people to feel protected, yet linked to open sky,” says Echelman. “I hope that visitors feel more connected to those around them – to neighbors and strangers.” Through the interactive lighting component, Echelman says, “[the artwork] is about each one of us being one of those stars – those sparks – and being able to paint the skies.”