Live Forever, the work of Infranatural (Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess), is a network of custom laser-cut origami-like brass flowers affixed to the exterior wall of a Los Angeles fire station. Nested within the flowers is a series of LED lights connected through a controller programmed to run animations based on humidity and temperature data collected from sensors mounted on the roof of the building. Lighting is varied in intensity relative to the incoming data which gives the piece an evolving nature and enables it to indicate the current fire-risk in the County of Los Angeles.
Aesthetic/Visual: To produce maximum coverage and impact on an exterior wall of the building.
Innovation/Risk (Conceptual and Technical): To contribute to an emerging field of art practice, i.e., public artwork that provides environmental monitoring. To achieve the desired effects, the artists invented their own machines and chemical processes to produce the work.
Audience Engagement: To create a relationship between people and the building at an emotional, intuitive level; to garner and reward curiosity.
Social Activation/Debate: To speak to the community about the role of the fire station in the community as a resource for prevention of harm and to rebuild the relationship between individuals in society and the survival of our infrastructure, addressing an ideological debate about investment in public infrastructure and works.
Skills Acquisition/Personal Development: The artists invited the public to contribute to the design and construction of the work, i.e., to contribute to how to make the nodes and the pattination.
Air Quality: To monitor air quality.
Habitat: To provide habitat for native flora and fauna.
Energy Efficiency: To create passive cooling for the South and West-facing walls.
OUTCOMES & IMPACTS
Methods of Evaluation
- No evaluation is planned by the City of Los Angeles, which is principally concerned with maintenance. Oliver Hess checks the artwork every month with a view to modifying its function to improve its ability to live up to the intention of the work. Hess garners anecdotal feedback comes form the employees of the fire station regarding their experiences and the comments of visitors.
The project was funded through a percentage for the for arts regulation that applies to all new infrastructure builds or renovations in the State of California. The Los Angeles City Council ran a competition in order to commission artists to create an artwork as part of the fire station renovation. The design process lasted two years.
IMPACTS OF ARTWORK PRODUCTION
There’s a tendency for people to over explain their work as sustainable and it hinders the work and can be counterproductive. For example, just because it’s solar-powered doesn’t mean it’s environmentally friendly. We have a flawed expectation that environmental artworks will outperform current industrial processes and therefore expect them to be ‘perfect’. Sustainability is about moving towards better and cleaner modes of production, it’s evolving.
Hess, Oliver. Interview by author, February 24, 2012.
Hess, Oliver and Jenna Didier. “Infranatural.” Didier Hess. http://www.didierhess.com (accessed February 24, 2012).
“Live Forever.” Choubun, entry posted March 12, 2011. http://www.choubun.com/wordpress/blog/live-forever/ (accessed February 26, 2012).