The “45.5 Meteorite Craters Made by Humans on Their 45.5 Hundred Million Year Old Planet” Fountain
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, China. Lives and works in New York. And a self-described extraterrestrial.
Though his palette involves a wide range of materials, his signature pieces are borne out of gunpowder and fireworks. In one of his more recent exploding events, he painted a black rainbow in the skies over Valencia and Edinburgh, a monochromatic omen heralding the Apocalypse, a scheduled test of the prototype Emergency Aerial Alert System or a pyrotechnic triumph celebrating industrial virility.
In any case, check out the videos to get the full sonic thrill.
“Why is it important to make these violent explosions beautiful? Because the artist, like an alchemist, has the ability to transform certain energies, using poison against poison, using dirt and getting gold.”
Or Dr. Frankenstein concocting from his menagerie of elemental particles a wondrous creation, one that could, in an instant, mutate into a destructive monster, severing pinkies, arms, perhaps even torsos.
But Cai Guo-Qiang is a master: “With time you start to get to know the material. You actually develop a way to know how it will behave, to a certain degree. First, you have to accept that it’s uncontrollable and that there is an accidental element. You have to accept it and then work with it. I’ve worked with the material for so long that I’ve gained an understanding of how it works. Sometimes I can control it better than I realize, better than I expect. Then at that point it becomes stagnant. So it’s very important that there is always this uncontrollability that’s a part of the work. My way of doing it is just to flow with the material, go with the material and let it take me where it wants me to go. So I continuously want it to give me problems and obstacles to overcome.”
Looking through his various projects, it occurred to me how cool it would be if he were to design fountains that are as intricate and flamboyant as any Baroque fountains. In fact, he has one in his repertoire, though the next iterations should be less temporary than his ephemeral pyrotechnics.
There is something defective about a fountain that goes dormant in the winter. And no amount of sculptural beauty and imaginative multi-use strategies can salvage a veritable dead weight. When their waters are drained, the surrounding public space usually goes to the dumps.
So when Buckingham Fountain is turned off but tourists and February newlyweds still need that standard Chicago portrait, throw away the Christmas lights and turn on the “45.5 Meteorite Craters Made by Humans on Their 45.5 Hundred Million Year Old Planet” Fountain. There is no better substitute background than crackling sparks, serpentine solar flares, voluminous cloud tendrils, prismatic technicolor and the smell of sulfur.
Instead of a stony carcass, a polychromatic beast.
Cai Guo-Qiang @ Art:21
Naoya Hatakeyama & Geoff's Earth-Fountain©
La Machine de Marly