janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples

Earthtime 1.26 Riyadh by janet echelman at riyadh art 2023

 

American sculptor Janet Echelman, jointly with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), introduced her Earthtime series to Saudi Arabia as part of the country’s national public initiative, Riyadh Art. Installed on December 2023 amid the Wadi Namar water park, Earthtime 1.26 Riyadh is an ode to the rippling power of earthquakes and tsunamis, to the union of sky and earth, to human strength and adaptability, bridging opposites with bold colors and soft textile curves. ‘The sculpture serves as a symbol of interconnectedness, composed of countless intertwined fibers. Each time a single knot moves in the wind, the location of every other knot in the sculpture’s surface is changed in an ever unfolding dance of human-made creation with the forces of nature beyond our control,’ shares Echelman. 

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
Earthtime 1.26 Riyadh by Janet Echelman | image © the artist

 

 

visualizing chile’s 2010 earthquake and tsunami data

 

Hovering over Wadi Namar, Earthtime 1.26 Riyadh by Janet Echelman (see more here) is also the latest in a decade of collaboration with SOM, forming an external team of aeronautical and structural engineers, computer scientists, lighting designers, landscape architects, and a fabrication team to complete her artwork. Echelman’s studio used digital modeling to create the structure, drawing inspiration from scientific data detailing a specific geological event: the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile, causing ripples globally and accelerating the Earth’s daily rotation. The title, ‘1.26,’ signifies how the Earth’s day was shortened by 1.26 microseconds as a result of this unforgettable natural disaster.

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
suspended over Wadi Namar in Riyadh | image © Janet Echelman

 

 

knotting synthetic fibers by loom and hand

 

Material-wise, the team resorted to centuries-old techniques, intricately knotting by loom and hand custom engineered fibers with nylon and UHMWPE, which are fifteen times stronger than steel by weight. The resulting installation comprised ‘1,675 feet of rope and 92 spliced connections anchored to four supporting metal structures‘, writes SOM on instagram. By bridging history with the present, the piece magnifies ancient methods on an urban scale, Janet Echelman argues. She goes on to reflect on the experience at Wadi Namar, where her creation, set against desert rock formations, invites contemplation on contemplation on comfortable majlis sofas under the open sky—a singular experience unmatched anywhere in the world.

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
image © Ahmed Hasan via SOM on Instagram

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
image © Janet Echelman

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
image via SOM on Instagram

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
intricately knotting by loom and hand custom engineered fibers | image © Janet Echelman

janet-echelman-earthtime-designboom-full-3

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
image © Janet Echelman

janet echelman's braided earthtime sculpture in riyadh is a visual echo of tsunami ripples
the installation was part of Riyadh Art 2023 | image © Janet Echelman

 

 

project info:

 

name: Earthtime 1.26 Riyadh

location: Wadi Namar, Saudi Arabia 

artist: Janet Echelman @janetechelman
studio Echelman team: Melissa Henry, Daniel Smith
sculpture design engineer: SOM San Francisco / Alessandro Beghini, Nicole Wang

client: Presented by the Royal Commission for City

program: Noor Riyadh light art festival by Riyadh Art | @riyadhartofficial

production manager: HAVAS Paris

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