Tornado Timepiece @ Gratitude

In Winter of 2015 we were asked to create a piece for Gratitude, a New York conglomerate art and music event, which transformed a huge warehouse space in Red Hook into an otherworldly party experience.  The room we were offered a grant to create the piece for was themed after Atlantis, an undersea paradise of mystical beauty.

We wondered what the clock might be for a life like this.  A place where water lives at the heart of everything, where sunlight is scarce, but bioluminescent energy abundant.  Our minds landed on the sand timer, which uses the consistent power of gravity to parcel time out into a known entity.  We scaled the timer up to near-human size, and replaced the sand with light-reactive water, to create a participatory water tornado art piece.

To enable the mysterious glow, four battery-powered black lights were installed within the foam body. A wooden frame was built to hold the plastic carboys together in their inverted state, with four corner posts to serve as handles for participants.  It was heavy enough to require two people to pick up, but it was soft enough to be safe and prevent damage when dropped. We surrounded the piece with a circle of fabric to set the stage for the piece, and to our delight, found people enjoyed it as a place to sit and stare at the piece for hours at a time while they worked together to explore it.

Some participants could gyrate the tornado, while others seemed unable. Ultimately we enjoyed the challenges the piece imparted on the audience. Seeing them surmount these challenges, and explore the piece in unconventional ways made the project more than worthwhile.