Janet Echelman’s Vibrant Sculpture Floats Over Madrid’s Plaza Mayor

American artist Janet Echelman recently unveiled the latest sculpture to her Earth Time Series that began in 2010, with a captivating suspended thread installation currently on display at Madrid’s Plaza Mayor in Spain. Through February 19th, the piece was unveiled on Friday to mark Madrid’s 400th anniversary.

1.78 Madrid, a new sculpture explores the cycles of time, and is formed by a mesh made up of layers of braided and knotted special fiber, 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 when an earthquake in Japan in 2011 shifted the earth’s mass, thus speeding up the planet’s rotation of one day. This work examines the complex interaction of the many systems of our physical world with one another.

Clad in oranges, pinks, purples, and reds, the see-through sculpture electrifies the historic buildings below; Echelman’s work hovers over the plaza’s statue of King Philip III like an electric cloud. Comprising 1.6 million hand-tied knots, this new network is 15 times stronger than steel by weight, but it will gently move if struck by a passing breeze.

“The artwork reminds us of our complex interconnectedness with larger cycles of time and the systems of our physical world. The sculpture’s materials embody this. When any one element in the sculpture’s network moves, every other element is affected. Our surroundings affect how we feel and how we experience our lives – we are responsible for the way our cities look and function.”