I knew I had only two and a half hours to hang the sculpture in the Aquarium and wouldn’t have time for things to go wrong, so I rehung the whole thing, entity, houses, lights, and fan, to practice and make sure it would go up smoothly.
The grid, entity, lights, and fan went up easily and took very little time. The houses were recalcitrant. As I wrote in Part 2, the houses are suspended with mono filament which is glued into the houses. At the other end the filament is wrapped around wooden pegs (cut from a dowel and painted white) that have a hook on one end and a slit in the other to make adjusting and locking of the length of the filament easier. When I was rehanging the houses a bunch of them had the mono filament slip out of the peg’s locking slit and unraveled off the hangers. It was frustrating, but it was better happening at this stage rather than later, when I was hanging the piece in the Aquarium. I restrung the unraveled filament on the hangers and added white artist tape around all the pegs. The tape made the pegs more visible than I like, but it held the mono filament in place. The pegs are great, but I will probably change the way the houses are hung in the future.
I tried to take some photos, none of which turned out very well. It was late, the sheet looked weird, I couldn’t get back far enough to get everything in the frame, etc., and I was tired and I still had to pack it all up.
After the failed photo shoot I took the whole thing down again, re-tagged all the pieces, and readied everything for transport. I wound the mono filament of each house around a dowel and packed each one into individual plastic bags. I taped all the hangers I made for the entity onto a piece of plexiglass. I laid the 4 parts of the entity in the back of the car. We packed a drill, tape, ink, paint brushes, a sheet (on which to lay everything on site), screws, eye bolts, S-hooks, a light timer, blue tape, the fan, pencils, markers, extra mono filament, and gesso into a tool bag. Some things were necessary; some were just-in-case.
The next morning Matthew and I drove everything to the Aquarium. At the back of the Aquarium are white wood panels which we removed. We hung the grid from the ceiling of the Aquarium with eye-bolts and S-hooks. I hung the entity and the houses from the grid and removed all the tags.
Matthew mounted the lights and the fan and hooked the lights up to a timer so they would only illuminate at night while I went outside and trimmed away the vines that were overhanging the Aquarium glass.
We put the panels back up and it was done. It took less than 2 hours.
We went back that night to see if the lights were working. It’s difficult to photograph when it’s dark outside, but it glows exactly as I hoped, with a blue light that feels thick and murky.
A last note about the lights. Somewhere in all this I questioned my lighting choice. I liked the effect I had with the blue LEDs (see Part 2), but I began to wonder whether I needed to try and attract more attention. I thought about having white, lightning-like flashes, I thought that maybe the color of the lights should reflect different moods. I experimented with Phillips Hue lights and the Thunderstorm For Hue app. I tried random, slow flashing lights. I experimented with a lot of flashing lights. I had lights changing color. It was fun and interesting, but it was all wrong. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should, and like the wrapped houses, the flashing and color changes changed the essence of the sculpture. The steady, blue, LED bulbs were right.
I’m happy with this sculpture. Everything came together brilliantly.
The Ann Arbor Art Center staff were wonderful through all this — from trusting that the weird little maquette I showed them (see Part 1) could become something much more, to being being available while we were hanging the finished piece. Nothing But Blue Skies will be hanging in the Aquarium through November 26, 2016.