Pershing Square, a 150-year old park at the center of Downtown Los Angeles, is currently slated to be demolished in lieu of a more pedestrian-friendly iteration by French landscape architects Agence Ter. Although the current park has seen more yesterdays than tomorrows, it managed to draw an unusual number of visitors this August for Liquid Shard, a temporary sculpture installation that enlivened the forlorn park.
The installation is the result of a collaborative public art project among Architectural Association Visiting School Los Angeles (AAVSLA) summer program directors Eulalia Moran and Devin Gharakhanian, their students, and L.A.-based artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics. Moran and Gharakhanian led a design class for visiting international students aimed at tackling music festival installation pieces, in which students were asked to design an installation for a music festival of their choosing. After the initial design studio, a prototype was chosen, fabricated, and installed by the students in Pershing Square. Gharakhanian said: “We intentionally chose a hyper-deactivated space in L.A.—no one goes there and it isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to. But this project is a good example of art meeting architecture to have a positive impact on the city. Liquid Shard went viral and now there’s interest from other cities that are looking for similar types of public art. It’s important that municipalities and politicians are seeing that there is power behind art and architecture.”
Shiny and mesmerizing, the 15,000-square-foot installation is made of holographic mylar connected with monofilament, creating a billowing, fluttering wave of movement that gets caught in every breeze. The sculpture is made up of two such layers, each of which moves independently of the other, suspended between 15 and 115 feet above the square. The work, according to Shearn, is inspired by the so-called swarm behavior that schools of fish and flocks of birds engage in when they move in unison.