Art in the Air


Art in the Air

A behind-the-scenes look at one of the most unique art installations to ever hit Kansas City. Created by Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics, 'Reflecting Motion' is now on display at Haverty Family Yards at Union Station.

Featuring more than 13,000 feet of rope and 78,000 holographic streamers, the wind-blown sculpture flutters as high as 72 feet in the air.

AIRED: July 11, 2019 | 0:26:46

- I think this is a.

I don't know.

It's just a massive, beautiful project.

I think Kansas City's really lucky.

I think we're really lucky to be the ones installing it.

I've done quite a few projects around town

at a bunch of different buildings.

But this is the largest that I've ever installed.

It's just over 12,000 square feet.

So as a rigger and an installer,

it's made me very proud to be a part of it

'cause I'm gonna be able to show everybody what I've done

along with the beauty of Patrick's art,

all of Alice's planning, Jesse and Kelsey's rigging.

I mean, this is just a great team,

an all-start cast and you know,

really making the most of it.

Got Aris and Marco on the ground,

makin' sure that we're all tied together,

spliced up and sittin' pretty

with really great people.

All right, here we go.

(inspiring orchestra music)

- About five years ago, when we did the 100th anniversary,

we did a digital mapping of the building.

We told Union Station story on Union Station.

(uplifting orchestra music)

And it was wildly accepted in Kansas City.

And people said, "Would you please do that again?"

So we needed to do something different

for the re-opening of Union Station

for our 20th anniversary,

something creative where you take science, technology,

engineering, arts and math

and make it a statement on Kansas City.

So they came back with us, and they said,

"We have found an artist that does this

"very creative Mylar experience.

"And he's done it all over the world."

- I was raised in Colorado.

My mom, like I said, is an artist.

My father's a behavioral psychologist.

And I was raised in sort of a hippie environment.

(mellow piano music) You know, they were both

very progressive thinkers

and designed and built the house that we grew up in.

I was always really clear that I could just do

anything I wanted to do, basically.

(inspiring piano and string music)

(distant conversation)

- [Man] That's not the, yeah the issue's tryin'

to get through that opening with the wide pallet.

- Give it up, work extension.

(forklift motor rumbles)

- You might have to lift, Marco.

(forklift rattles) (group conversation)

We can't ship the whole thing in one box, right?

So we have to do as much as we can in Los Angeles.

And then, we bring it here, and we have to finish it off.

(forklift motor rumbles)

(forklift beeps)

(tool snaps) - (mumbles)

- So before we unpack this completely, I would like to have.

I just wanna meet with everyone.

Poetic Kinetics has been around since 2008,

since the Beijing Olympics.

I started off as a fabricator.

I was zip-tying, making clouds for a project

that went into the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A.

The goal for today is to get this piece

and this piece unpacked.

We're gonna start working on all of the rigging lines

and drop attachments, starting from this end.

And then, I'm gonna call you guys.

The rigging team are going to start working

on all of the attachment points on this steel

and on this steel.

- Crazy, huh? - You bet.

(pages rustle) (engine rumbles)

- What do you think?

It's just like it's a little blue thing.

It's gonna hang up in the air.

It's like all the engineering tests

and how much deformity it's gonna sustain

in different kinds of wind directions.

I was inspired by aurora borealis in the sky in Alaska

or the way schools of fish

swim together and move together

and large numbers of the things kinda moving the same way

or the murmuration of birds, like the starlings

flying in the sky (upbeat orchestra music)

(materials clatters) and how they,

how they all kinda turn together

and sort of magically kinda move.

And you know, I've seen those things

throughout the course of my life.

I filed them away.

But when I first saw them and pretty much every time

I see those kinda things, I feel this expansion in my chest.

And I have this giddiness, this kinda like, "Wow!"

Like an awareness of something I don't understand,

but something clearly is happening,

something impressive and dramatic and powerful.

(dramatic orchestra music)

(distant conversation) - Yeah just drop it down.

(board clatters)

(Mylar rattles) - (chuckles)

- All right, you guys are gonna go out more

that way. (Mylar rattles)

- How specific, how important is like the specific,

like down to the edge? - It's not.

- It's not, okay.

- He built it in, like six inches.

- Oh okay, fine.

The thing about looking at one of these pieces of paper

is you've got a straight line

that is representing a rope that is actually going to be

in motion all the time.

It's a lot of taking the concepts from the drawings

and our conversations and then, learning how to apply them

to the real world structures.

The next one is on the other side of this wall.

So we're gonna have to figure out how to get a measurement

from here through this. (distant conversation)

We can pull it.

We can just pull it straight line out here.

(boots stomp pavement) Pull that way.

- So far, so good.

I realize it's only ten o'clock.

So we're doing pretty good on time.

We have the first two sections of the piece

almost completely seamed up.

Marco and Aris are working on that.

And then, Kelsey, Jesse and Jason are working on

putting the rigging lines out.

And the next step, we're going to start attaching

all the rigging lines to the artwork.

- There's thousands of knots involved.

(smooth piano music) So there's quite a bit of

sort of tedious, on-the-ground connections and stuff.

And then, all the ropes get attached and put together

and connected to the right points.

It takes a while to get prepped

'cause you don't wanna be halfway through a launch

with the wind coming in and not have stuff

as prepared as you possibly can.

(inspiring orchestra music)

(dramatic drumbeats) (water gurgles)

(birds chirp) (mellow piano music)

(cart rattles)

(distant conversation)

- First thing that we need to do

because the road's gonna be closed

is we wanna work on this anchor point,

the column on the parking structure.

We had extended everything out

to make sure it didn't fly away or roll over last night.

So we're putting everything back where it belongs

and then, double-checking all the work

that we did yesterday with fresh eyes.

(Mylar crackles) - (in unison) Eye link.

- I think the main trick is

keeping track of the edges. (chuckles)

I just like to make things.

I don't know, (Mylar crackles)

whatever somebody will hire me to make, pretty much,

(chuckles) like just anything other than a desk job

is my passion.

- I came here as a photographer,

got an artist visa, you know?

Exploration, adventure, let's go.

- The real artistry is in trying to anticipate

how you want it to move in the air,

in different wind conditions,

and using the wind to your best advantage,

restraining it as little as you possibly can,

lining up for what the predominant wind direction

is gonna be over the course of the months.

So we do a really careful wind study

and look at historical wind data.

And all that runs right up against engineering.

So as much as I wanna dream

that it's gonna look like this or that,

the harsh reality is

it turns into a pretty complex project on that side.

But the underlying thing is,

we wanna make this thing dance in the sky.

(inspiring orchestra music)

- Today, I'm trying to figure out

how to orient different pulleys and different ropes

without getting in the way of an active pedestrian bridge

where we've got

apparently, I learned after coming up here,

not only just people walking but cars as well.

That side of the bridge has some really handy columns

that we rig to.

This side does not.

So since we're not able to actually cross

the bridge with ropes, we're comin' up with some temporary

rigging to hold the weight

until we can figure out our system under the bridge.

(rope rustles)

(boom lift motor rumbles) (distant conversation)

(boom lift beeps) - Still havin' a good time.

(mellow piano music) - I'm really excited

to see how this is all gonna really play out

and see if it really happens the way

I was imagining it would. (soft piano and string music)

Nature's an unpredictable thing sometimes.

We're definitely playing with a whole lotta chaos.

(inspiring orchestra music)

(boom lift beeps)

(distant conversation)

- [Man] Little more curve under there.

(metal clanks)

- We were diggin' through the archives

of the Union Station drawings to evaluate.

Do all these anchor points have enough capacity

to take the forces that they're reporting?

We had to go back and forth on what wind load is okay.

And when would we have to have 'em drop it

under a storm event?

(boom lift beeps)

- [Man] The rope attaches there.

Got a new sculpture.

(distant conversation)

- So a cable structure is actually a highly

nonlinear analysis problem.

And you change any little thing, and it changes everything.

And so, we were dealing with a cable net structure.

(Mylar rattles) And so, when they first did

the initial analysis, then you kinda find a drape shape.

And then, it reports all these different forces.

And so, we're getting forces in the neighborhood

of 35,000 pounds.

That's the equivalent of what, 15, 20 cars.

(wind whistles) That's the kind of forces.

Originally, they were wanting to anchor

to a four foot by four foot hunk of concrete.

And we were looking at the forces and saying,

"Well, that would actually get drug across the parking lot

"if that's what we're anchoring to."

And so, I think we ended up with about

five of these helical anchors

that get drilled into the ground.

And I don't remember exactly

the capacity of each one of those.

But I think each one of those has more like

20,000 pounds capacity.

So we were relying on,

relying on a handful of those.

(distant conversation)

- So you wanna?

While I pull on this, do you wanna try to feed that in?

Or maybe, no, no, no.

I was gonna say.

Maybe we'll just do a quick, little wrap on there.

Let's just wrap some of this around it.

(engine rumbles) (distant conversation)

- [Woman] There were only two blues,

weren't there? (rope rustles)

- We have a good test tonight.

- [Man] What's tonight?

- We have some fun storms coming in.

- [Man] What are winds supposed to be?

- Uh, last time-- - I saw 14 or 15.

- That was today. - That was during the day.

- Yeah tonight, depending on how the storm goes,

it may be higher.

- So we do a wind study and look at the location

and look at the predominant wind directions,

look at the weather history,

you know, the highs in last 10 years.

How long is the installation gonna be up?

And make some determinations through that process.

And we come up with a rigging plan

that tries to find that line between

too bigga ropes and my desire to

have the piece as isolated and sort of magically floating

in space as possible (mellow orchestra music)

and maintaining a safety factor

that everyone's comfortable with.

(uplifting orchestra music)

- [Man] So we have to pull this pin to get this in?

Is that right? - It should fit here, well.

(metal clanks) - So that's unfortunate.

See how it's like?

- What's 100 times 10?

- It's gonna get exciting pretty soon. (laughs)

We're getting all the attachment points on this side

about halfway through up.

And then, we're gonna move over to this side,

so we can start getting the round part of the piece

up off the ground.

(engine rumbles)

- Nobody move the ropes. (boom lift beeps)

(distant conversation)

- Yeah, so over the course of the months that it'll be here,

for this to be sitting and rubbing,

if the wind was working it against this edge,

it would damage the rope.

So we put this on to protect the rope itself.

It's like a Kevlar sleeve

with a big piece of heavy, thick rubber piping inside,

like a rubber tube.

And now, that'll protect the building and protect the rope.

(engine rumbles)

- It's gonna be one five,

back, back, back, back, back, back, back,

run, run, run, run.

Can you repeat, please?

- [Kelsey] Just doin' this over here where the rope was.

Just wanting to make sure

it's not causing any issues for you.

- [Patrick] Stand by one second, Kelsey.

I wanna remove some of these drop lines.

I'm gonna cut some of these drop lines out,

so we don't get into lamps and stuff.

(boom lift beeps)

(Mylar rustles)

Okay, so let's,

let's gather it up.

Let's control it.

Can you hold onto these for just a second?

- Yep. - Is anyone

playin' on the ground havin' (mumbles)

with this tension right now?

I can't get this tight on my (mumbles).

(Mylar crackles) (wind whistles)

- [Patrick] That was a little bit of a scene.

That was fun.

- Oh my God. (distant conversation)

- Yeah. - Check it out.

- Look at that, oh! - Ooh, look at the way

that goes like that. - Oh look at the undulations.

- I can't believe. - Oh, it's just beautiful.

- [Man] When the sun, when we get sun,

if we ever get sun again-- - We will.

- [Man] It's just gonna be stunning.

- It gets dark in about an hour.

- Yeah, I get it. - Okay. -

- We just wanna make sure we're really secure.

- Alice, do you still have tangles,

or are we good to raise this way?

(engine rumbles)

- We're trying to untangle this lamppost

from the strings.

We're tryin' to just get the,

get the artwork off the ground

safe enough where people overnight can't get into it

'cause it's pretty dangerous when it's half up, half down.

We couldn't get the whole tail up today.

But we're just trying to, before we lose daylight,

try and get as much of it back inside

on top of the grass as possible.

(Mylar crackles)

I think that's fine, Marco, 'cause they're going up.

Whoa, the other side, Marco, on the blue tarp.

(boom lift beeps) (Mylar rustles)

- Let's get goin'.

So what's goin' there?

Is it hanging up on the fence?

It was a bit challenging, yesterday, in the wind.

We tried to like,

tried to be safe and tried to be careful and stuff.

But the wind, yesterday, came in these big waves.

And you're committed; you're holding.

You're tryin' to tie a knot or whatever.

And all of a sudden, the wind will just take

something outta your hand.

(footsteps click on pavement)

(distant conversation)

My favorite part, the feelings that I'm most excited about

are when the public just kinda stumbles in,

and I can just listen and observe.

- (chuckles) It's so amazing! (distant conversation)

Like nothing I've ever seen before.

- 'Cause I really believe in bringing art to the people

and making it accessible and free and engaging

and interactive and playful.

And so that's my favorite part.

(inspiring orchestra music)

- Most of the crew is set to leave tomorrow

around five o'clock.

So this is our last full work day to get everything done.

(boom lift beeps)

- [Woman] Did you send the last line down?

- I think I did.

Hold it right there for a second.

- [Man] Hey guys up there, pay attention

to the front of the T. rex as you're movin'.

- For Kelsey and Jesse, can you guys take slack

out of that tieback that's already going there?

'Cause we're gonna try and get the tail over the lip.

There are obstacles in the way, this whole area.

We had to go over this fence.

We have several lampposts and stanchions on the ground.

We also have this lovely T. rex skeleton

with lots of bones and things

that the rope can get caught up in.

So we've been in this area all morning,

trying to just get over all these obstacles.

We had a tangle.

We had to take care of that.

So yeah, but we're not taking lunch

until we get all these points up.

So (chuckles) that's my goal.

(engine rumbles)

- Amazingly, this is the first time he's come and seen one.

Yeah, my dad and my stepmother had a blast.

- It's mostly engineering,

but it's common sense engineering.

- [Patrick] We have a mechanical advantage

with those pulleys.

- This is just too amazing. - Yes?

- It's a really complicated space.

- Can you move that rope-- - Is it more than usual?

- [Man] that's in front of me so I can drive that way?

- Oh my gosh, yeah, yeah.

This is one of the most-- - I see

what you've been doin' up there.

- Is it because it's just in such a tight space?

- Yeah, there's just all these things,

dinosaurs and light poles. - You have good coordination

though with your team. - I do, yeah.

You know, I think it's hard to describe something like this.

You can show 'em pictures and maybe video.

But when you're this close and underneath it,

and it rises 50 feet in a few seconds and moves around.

He got to see me up on boom lifts.

I think it was really a good opportunity

for him and I to kinda connect on that.

I can't wait for him to come over and see it in sunlight.

He's back at the hotel.

So yeah, yeah, it was really pretty special.

(mellow piano music)

(engine rumbles and beeps) (distant conversation)

- Thank you.

It's up off the ground.

It's up off the ground.

- Tonight, we're in a historic moment.

We get a chance to celebrate our 20th anniversary

of the re-opening of Union Station and Science Center.

(audience cheers)

(mellow orchestra music)

- This is a perfect location.

And just to see the sunset light coming and hitting it

and the little fine details are working,

and the big drama is working.

Yeah, I'm really, really. (chuckles)

I'm excited; it's nice.

(inspiring orchestra music)


  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv