The temporary installation, on view from November 2018 through March 2019, is part of a comprehensive strategic plan that activates parts of the park with engaging, colorful environments that engender public participation, lots of photos and user-generated content, plus the opportunity for families and guests to create memorable visits to one of Downtown Houston‘s most active outdoor green spaces.
Susie Tommaney explains:
The artists at Cocolab have climbed a pyramid at Teotihuacan (draping it in a Mesoamerican light show), built scale models of more than 50 of the world’s historical monuments (Rome’s Colosseum dwarfed London’s Buckingham Palace) and christened the opening of Mexico City’s 50-story BBVA Bancomer Tower with an audiovisual and pyrotechnic light show that won’t soon be forgotten.
Day for Night fans will remember a smaller installation Cocolab did at last year’s festival. “Outside” blended light and sound to create an otherworldly experience emanating from a central pillar, sort of a mash-up between Star Wars’ lightsaber and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Now the Mexico City-based design studio is returning to Houston with a decidedly different installation, this time coming to Discovery Green.
“GUST: Celebrating a Decade of Discovery” features 1,900 pinwheels along the Brown Foundation Promenade that not only react to natural wind patterns, their movement also can be affected by a visitor’s breath. “They created interactive blowing stations that you can blow into and it amplifies your breath. So the pinwheels can interact with the natural breeze — here at Discovery Green there’s a lot of that — or your own breath,” says Susanne Theis, the park’s programming director.
“They’re connected to a lighting program so that at rest, when no one is using it, the colors of the light change according to the direction of the wind. But when the audience is blowing into the blowing stations they can change where the wind is and that can affect the lighting on the pinwheels.”
It’s the first time Cocolab has done anything in this style, and Theis tells us the design team was inspired by the park itself. “They came over and saw the park and they came back to us with an idea based on the pinwheel, a child’s toy, a very common toy. They wanted to take advantage of the sense of play that engenders and they wanted to create something that interacted both with the audience and with nature,” says Theis.
Created out of a plasticine material that’s both lightweight and weatherproof, Theis tells us that the color of the pinwheels reflects the color of the sky at sunset: “pale blue, golden and a pinkish-purplish hue.”
“This is a departure for [Cocolab] because it’s fun, it’s light, in the sense that it’s not a dark piece and it’s interactive in a way that they haven’t quite done before,” says Theis.
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