A suspended sea of delicate silver strands ripples over Pershing Square and casts moving shadows over pedestrians who pass underneath.
The “Liquid Shard” art installation, made from holographic mylar and monofilament, stretches 15,000 sq ft. across the park and rises and falls like a mystical giant, slithering through the wind.
Designed and built by artist Patrick Shearn, the new installation has become an instant hit, mesmerizing downtown residents, office workers and tourists alike, while spawning thousands of posts on social media. The exhibit is part of an on-going effort by the city of Los Angeles to support public art displays.
“Not exactly sure what it is, why it’s here or who put it there but Pershing Square was shimmering today,” said nkao in an Instagram post..
In another post, danaworkman said, “The real magic happens when the wind kicks up, launching it into a beautiful rolling wave across #pershingsquare.”
Representatives from the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department and Now Art LA, a non-profit group that curates public art throughout the city, originally approached Shearn with the idea to create an installation for the centrally located public park.
“We wanted to have the piece in downtown LA, to showcase it in a space where there are a lot of people gathering, and where it would have a strong architectural and spacial impact,” said Carmen Zella, co-founder of Now Art LA. “Pershing Square was the perfect fit.”
Shearn collaborated with twelve students attending the Architectural Association Visiting School during a 10-day design workshop. The students, from 18 to 22-years-old, represented countries from around the globe, including Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, China and Korea.
The team used 3-D computer modeling to assess how the structure would hang and move in the space. They then worked to construct their design from material that Shearn had previously spent weeks putting together -- attaching thousands of metallic strips to a grid of high-tech fiber rope and bungee cords.
Before the project’s reveal on July 28, the group worked overnight, hanging the creation from a tower and trees in Pershing Square.
Shearn’s inspiration comes from exploring scientific principles and revealing natural beauty.
“I’m inspired by observing nature and this constant feeling that there’s a lot going on that we don’t understand and we aren’t aware of,” said the artist, who owns a Los Angeles-based design studio called Poetic Kinetics.
“You feel ripple of wind on your skin, and the scale of it feels small. But when you see this piece, you’re brought to an understanding of bigger motion around you.”
Shearn specializes in creating larger than life sculptures for Burning Man, Coachella and other popular festivals. His creations have taken the forms of a 36-foot astronaut, a giant butterfly and an enormous snail to name a few.
Raised in Colorado and Alaska, Shearn came to Los Angeles in 1989 to work in the film industry after attending art school in New York. He started out creating movie monsters, including building dinosaurs for the film “Jurassic Park.”
His said skills in construction and animatronics informs works like “Liquid Shard,” which is shaped from two layers that can move with the wind from 15 ft. off the ground to 115 ft. in the air.
Zella helped curate a similar piece by Shearn that was about 1/5th the size, several months earlier for the LA Art Show.
“It’s a piece that can be celebrated from many perspectives,” said Zella. “It has a slow-paced motion that counters the fast-paced hustle and bustle of the downtown environment.”
The “Liquid Shard” installation is currently scheduled to remain in place until August 11, but Kevin Regan, Assistant General Manager at the Recreation and Parks Department has proposed keeping it up longer.
“I would have to say this is one of my favorite installations we’ve done. But I didn’t expect it to blow up on social media like it did,” he said, mentioning that the exhibit has generated thousands of posts on Instagram. “It’s cool that so many people are enjoying it.”
Recenty, more than two dozen people stood underneath the artwork, gazing upward at it’s udulating silver filaments. Most were snapping pictures on smartphone cameras.
“I think of it as a silver cloud,” said Philip Schmunk who came to sit underneath the sculpture during his lunch break. “I like how it floats and moves over a pretty large area and creates a shaded area here, in what’s usually a pretty hard concrete space.”
Yasi Yarmo and Saon Kashem, two friends, came to see the installation together.
“It’s a good excuse to get out of the office and just check it out,” Kashem said. “It reminds me of when I was a kid and playing with kites. It brings back those memories.”
“They should definitely do more art installations here,” Yarmo added.