Air, Cotton, Silk, Custom Electronics
Role: Artist, Fabricator
Collaborators: PVW Consultants (original producer)
Using thin air as an animating force to set a flock bird sculptures flying.
Breath is a kinetic sculptural installation series of 200 animated, inflatable birds that has been exhibited across North America. Each bird is made of a cotton fabric and inflates via a small fan attached to the top of the sculpture. These fans power on and off, inflating and deflating the wings accordingly, mimicking the motion of a bird in flight. Each sculpture flaps its wings independently, creating a naturalistic animation. As per the title of the artwork, the effect is produced entirely through changes in air pressure.
In 2012, Studio F Minus was commissioned to create a series of 13 sculptural installations for exhibition during Earth Week that would celebrate a commitment to clean air and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
Air is formless and elusive. It has neither visual presence nor significant mass. It is also vital and ubiquitous.
Given Studio F Minus' interest in working with unconventional materials, it was natural that our approach to the commission would involve turning air itself into the lead actor in the piece.
Inflatable sculptures depend on constant airflow to maintain their form and structure. This relationship parallels our own dependence on clean air.
After beginning to conceptualize the project, Studio F Minus realized that these sculptures had the ability not only to give air form and shape, but to use air as an animating force. With each fan on an automated on/off switch, the attached sculptures inflate and deflate rhythmically. This inflation and deflation is engineered to animate the birds’ wings, but leave other features of the sculpture unchanged. The birds fly.
Sustainable Design Features:
After researching inflatable sculptures, SFM posited that inflatables could be better fabricated through sustainable materials and techniques.
• Each bird is fabricated from cotton oxford cloth, a rapidly renewable resource. This is a radical innovation in the field of inflatable sculptures, which has typically used petroleum-based material.
• Each bird is lit by energy-efficient, low-power LED lights. An entire flock of birds can be lit using less energy than would be consumed in an everyday incandescent desk lamp.
• All hanging structures are made with re-usable materials that will find a second life after the completion of the project.