Janet Echelman’s Madrid 1.78

plaza mayor Madrid 1.78, de Janet Echelman - carolina verd

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The Madrid Four Seasons program has filled Plaza Mayor with urban art installations to celebrate their IV centenary. The artist Janet Echelman was in charge of the last intervention and you can visit it from February 9 to February 19.

The installation was made of a mesh with layers of tangled and knotted technical fiber of 45 meters long by 35 meters wide by 21 meters high, combined with a spectacular lighting. Plaza Mayor offers the space for this in-suspension work with Madrid’s sky as a background.

plaza mayor Madrid 1.78, de Janet Echelman - carolina verd

1.78 Microseconds

The sculpture is part of the Earth Time Series that the artist started in 2010 to reflect about time in a large scale. In fact, its title, 1.78, is referring to the microseconds that the Earth’s rotation shortened the day of the earthquake and later tsunami in Japan, 2011. The vibrations altered Earth’s mass and accelerated its rotation, reducing the duration of that March 11.

Studio Echelman produced the 3D shape of the sculpture using groups of information regarding the height of the tsunami’s waves throughout the entire Pacific Ocean. The artist transformed that information into art. With this urban sculpture, she makes us reflect about the notion that we are all connected between Earth’s natural systems.

plaza mayor Madrid 1.78, de Janet Echelman - carolina verd


This floating sculpture vibrates with the wind and plays with the light that makes its colors shine: oranges, reds, magentas, and purples, creating a dance of waving colors that change with the sunlight throughout the day. It has a magnetic power, hypnotic; when it moves with the wind, the same air moves our hair, also makes us feel that we are one with the world; it’s all connected. Janet Echelman talks about her work as a way of representing “softness in a large scale”, a softness that the spectator feels when the composition comes to life thanks to the wind. With the effects of the light that makes it shine and the contrast between the blue sky and the fiber’s colors, the artist makes us look up and realize that we are part of something bigger.    

“The main idea of my work has to do with interconnectivity. The net’s shell is made in such way that, when a knot moves with the wind, all the other knots also move. It’s a piece about relationships and interdependency, the connections with other human beings, but it’s also about the physical media.”

Madrid 1.78 for Me

This week’s workshop will be, as always, a challenge. After seeing the work and reflecting about interconnectivity, the connection between Earth’s natural systems, between the Moon and the tides, etc., we will go to our experimentation table. There we will have several fibers, threads, wools, and ropes of different colors.

We will start by doing a list of fundamental elements to life (both natural and artificial). After that, we will write them in large letters or we will take an object that represents them, and we will assign each of them a color. Then, we will go over each of them, thinking of it, and we will tie them to the other elements it relates to. This way we will be creating physically the intangible relationships that exist between those vital elements.

At the end, we will have a structure that, without being technically complex like Echelman’s, will still be conceptually very powerful and it will be based on the same principles as hers. Very likely we will be surprised about the fact that things are more interconnected than we can realize.

I promise to teach and tell you about our structure’s creative process. What do you say? I’m being too ambitious, right? But, how fun!

Photo by: Óscar Rivilla
Conceptual design: Carolina Verd
Fashion courtesy of FinallY Press
Dress: Liujo
Shoes: Stuart Weitzman

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