Have you recently visited Madrid’s historic Plaza Mayor? If so, then you were probably greeted by a dazzling installation by artist Janet Echelman. She recently unveiled the latest sculpture to her Earth Time Series; a captivating suspended thread installation of tied knots.
This site-specific fibre art is called 1.78 Madrid and was unveiled on Friday to mark Madrid’s 400th anniversary. Comprising 600,000 tied knots and 77 miles of twine (nearly 124km), this new network is 15 times stronger than steel by weight, but gently moves in the wind.
“In the last four hundred years people have gathered at Plaza Mayor to witness bull-fights and Spanish Inquisition burnings,” Janet said. “Today we gather together with art that explores our concept of time, to discuss ideas. This is a hopeful trajectory for humanity.”
1.78 Madrid is 45m long by 35m wide and 21m high in combination with spectacular lighting. The number 1.78 within the title refers to the number of microseconds that the day was shortened during the 2011 earthquake in Japan. The quake was so powerful that it shifted the earth’s mass, thus speeding up the planet’s rotation of one day. Clad in oranges, pinks, purples, and reds, the see-through sculpture of tied knots electrifies the historic buildings below; Janet’s work hovers over the plaza’s statue of King Philip III like an electric cloud.
“I feel a need to find moments of contemplation in the midst of daily city life,” says Janet. “If my art can create an opportunity to contemplate the larger cycles of time and remind us to listen to our inner selves, I believe this can be the start of the transformation.”
The sculpture series, which began back in 2010, has resulted in installations in cities across Europe, Asia, Australia, and South and North America. And like Janet’s other site-specific city works, the sculpture is lit up by coloured lights at night.
Images: © Janet Echelman, Inc., 2018; Joao Ferrand photographs