Vancouver, British Columbia  Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks is Janet Echelman’s most ambitious sculpture to date. Installed in March 2014 at the TED Conference in Vancouver, the work spanned 745 feet and was elevated between the 24-story Fairmont Waterfront and the Vancouver Convention Center. It took a complex matrix of 860,000 hand and machine-made knots and 145 miles of braided fiber to create it.

Echelman partnered with artist Aaron Koblin, Creative Director of the Data Arts Team in Google’s Creative Lab, to make the sculpture interactive. At night it came to life as visitors choreographed lighting designs by using physical gestures on their mobile devices. These movements were then projected in real time against the sculpture. “I want people to feel protected, yet linked to open sky,” Echelman stated before the opening. “I hope that visitors feel more connected to those around them—to neighbors and strangers.”

Echelman recently received the 2014 Smithsonian Ingenuity Award in Visual Art. The Awards are given annually by Smithsonian Magazine to honor innovation in nine categories, “to celebrate the greatest innovators in America today.”


Watch The Making of Unnumbered Sparks to learn more about the project. Video courtesy Studio Echelman.