A massive inflatable and interactive sculpture has taken over Red Hook's sprawling Pioneer Works space. Chrysalis, by Brooklyn-based artist Chico MacMurtrie, hangs from the ceiling of the cavernous hall, enticing visitors to approach its squid-like mass. As visitors interact with the piece, it contorts and grows with life-like vigor, using only air to inflate itself to grandiose proportions.
Chrysalis is a hanging sculpture made up of 100 interconnecting high-tensile fabric tubes that appear almost like a soft tentacled sea creature when at rest. The piece is organic in shape, with its limbs gently flowing toward the ground. But when fully inflated, Chrysalis nearly fills the amazing Pioneer Works space, extending to a geometric 40 feet long by 26 feet wide and 16 feet high sculpture that changes and contorts with a flip of a switch.
As the arms in Chrysalis move and fill with air to capacity, they make temporary inflatable architectural forms, offering structures and shelters for visitors to climb inside. With their larger than life scale, these forms also mimic the geometry found inside organic forms, giving visitors the feeling that they are exploring the inner workings of a larger organism as they pass through the tensile morphing arms.
The sculpture itself is controlled by a computer program, and can either be preset with an orchestrated sequence, or manually controlled by a puppet master – MacMurtrie’s collaborator, Bill Bowen. Chrysalis is also joined by Forest of Totems, which is one of MacMurtrie’s earlier series of robotic sculpture groups.
Both installations can be seen at Pioneer Works, which has made a glorious recovery since being ravaged by Hurricane Sandy a year ago, on November 9, 10, 17 and 24, or by appointment.
Check out more images of Chrysalis on our Flickr page!