Balancing Ground is a playful space and a vibrant sculpture that can be activated by one person or by a hundred people. It will be built on the foundation of community voices talking about balance in life and work. If you are willing to listen, Balancing Ground will literally speak to you.
A skeletal wood structure houses six rows of benches and six playground teeter-totters. These dynamic seesaws (driven by individual Arduino processors and accelerometers) allow people to play with physical balance and to hear and reflect on certain words and phrases related to balance. Audio files are triggered as the seesaws go up and down, creating a dialogue between the two sides. Voices range from a square dance caller talking about the trust between partners on the dance floor, to a horticulturist describing the stress on apple trees and the sweetness of their fruit when they are out of balance, to a local professor who writes about the ever-changing role of the Mississippi River for Twin Cities residents. It will take a city to build our sculpture.
Inside the space, specialized directional speakers play longer fragments of conversations and interviews about balance in tight, narrow beams of sound that can be heard only in specific areas. This gives intimacy to the act of hearing: one person can hear a voice just above a whisper while the sound does not spill out loud into the public space.
The installation gently reacts to natural light transitions through the lengthening and shortening of shadows, accentuated by its placement on the Convention Center plaza. A canopy of prisms and reflective fragments is strung between the rafters, casting bits of the rainbow spectrum down to the seating area below. The structure, proportions, and fractured light suggest a sacred space deconstructed to its most elemental architectural components. As the sun sets, theatrical lights illuminate the structure and the reflective canopy, transforming it into an enlivened environment and an inverted silhouette of the intricate overhead patterns and shapes.
This beautiful space welcomes meaningful interactivity and playful participation. We mix movements that are calm and active, and encourage people to take part in large groups or as an individual, reminiscent of the communal or sacred spaces of our cities where a moment of epiphany may occur when the place is full or if you are the only one there.
Balancing Ground is the 2014 Winner of the Creative City Challenge.