Echelman’s web: knotted rope sculpture floats high above Boston

Echelman’s web: knotted rope sculpture floats high above Boston

The void created by buildings in urban areas often goes unused, but Janet Echelman’s latest sculpture in Boston reclaims that very space for the purpose of art. 

The aerial work, soaring 365 feet in the air above the Fort Point Channel Parks, is made from over 100 miles of fibrous twine, a material said to be 15 times stronger than steel but incredibly lightweight. Titled As If It Were Already Here, the installation’s polyester twine and polyethylene ropes – chosen for their elasticity, movement and strength – makes it appear as though spun by a giant spider between the city’s buildings. At other times it looks more like a fisherman’s net, anchored downtown. The colourful hues of the swaying threads mean it also resembles a bubble, vivid with the glow of soap and light. 

Echelman is known for her billowing, reactive sculptures and has previously created major installations in Amsterdam, Sydney, Vancouver and Singapore, as well as American cities like Phoenix and Denver. This latest commission will remain in place until October 2015 and forms part of the Greenway Conservancy’s public art programme.   

’I’m excited to visually knit together the fabric of the city with art,’ says Echelman of her knotted, floating installation.  

Made by hand-splicing rope and knotting twine into an interconnected mesh of more than a half-million nodes, the sculpture laces directly into three high-rise builds. ’It is a physical manifestation of interconnectedness and strength through resiliency,’ explains the artist. ’When any one of its elements moves, every other element is affected.’ 

The artwork incorporates ’dynamic light elements’ which react to the wind; sensors register movement and tension, manifesting data into the colour of light projected onto the sculpture’s surface.

Although monumental in scale (it covers almost half an acre), the fluidity and lightness of it are perhaps most awesome of all.

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