Art Marks the Spot

Art Marks the Spot

In Sweden, there is a traffic junction that is not only the site of an artwork, but it is the reason for the work.  The junction at Odenskog stands at the entry-point to the city of Östersund from Road E14, so the spot was chosen to make a welcoming-point to the city, something to make it stand out.  The 140m circular area of the interchange is a shaped landscape studded with glowing FRP sculptures designed by artist and landscape architect Monika Gora and completed in 2006.

The six Ljusglober (“light globes”) are each constructed of 10 identical twisted slices of glass-reinforced polyester.  They are considerably taller than most automobiles, very imposing in scale.  During daylight, they appear as solid, opaque objects, like magical blue onions from another galaxy.  At night, they glow from within.

The ten panels of translucent FRP were all made from one mold.  Even a casual look at the Ljusglober reveals how geometrically complex the surfaces are.  The digital surface model was created by the artist in collaboration with the Dutch design, engineering, and manufacturing company Octatube.  One of the challenges they had to solve was making sure that the shape, once cast, could be removed from the mold without damaging the mold, since the mold had to be used 60 times.  The completed digital model was then turned over to another Dutch company, Nedcam, to make the mold.

The Ljusglober don’t just mark a particular spot on the plant, they make a non-descript place into someplace special.

They also provide a sort of signpost in the development of architectural materials.  Without the digital design and fabrication methods used here, these objects probably would not be possible, or at least, not practical to construct.  Along the metaphorical road that is the history of design, they mark the transition from frustrated imagination to realized vision.

from the artist’s website www.gora.se:

The traffic junction at Odenskog marks the entrance to the city of Östersund from road E14. To underline the significance of the place, the landscape within the circular junction – with a diameter of 140 m – has been shaped with low banks and planted with lines of Amelanchier spicata. The asymmetrical pattern of the banks and lines is completed with six asymmetrically placed icy blue-towards-turquoise light sculptures roughly the same scale as the passing cars. In the daytime the sculptures – made of fiberglass reinforced polyester plastic – are opaque and make a solid impression. At night they are semitransparent and lit from within. The traffic junction with its sculptures and shaped landscape has attracted a lot of attention and discussion. Within a short time it has established Odenskog as a place with its own identity and an entrance to the city.

Images sourced as indicated.