The Exploratorium is pleased to announce a newly commissioned work by Danish artist Jeppe Hein. Hein’s looping Long Modified Bench San Francisco animates the public promenade of the Embarcadero, one of San Francisco’s busiest pedestrian walkways.
Literally turning the standard-issue park bench on its head, the project’s sculptural forms inspire play and improvisation as well as new forms of social engagement and communication. This site-specific installation reminds us that social behavior is shaped by art and design, and vice versa.
The Exploratorium has commissioned Hein to create a series of site-specific benches to animate the public promenade of the Embarcadero in front of Pier 17. Hein's work reminds us of how social behavior is often shaped by art and design, and vice versa.
An elevated topography of silvered squares inserted between the water and the sky, Sun Swarm is an architectural intervention that collects and disperses bits of sunlight across the deck of Pier 17. Clusters of tiny mirrors on the end of steel rods reach up from a series of pier pilings, swaying with the tide in unpredictable ways. Stretching for nearly 100 feet, Sun Swarm is an understated and elegant complement to the natural light play that occurs elsewhere over the water.
Spin disks filled with samples of Bay mud, sand, and gravel. The glowing color and quick settling of the materials is both beautiful and telling as you explore the movement and settling characteristics of Bay sediments. The viewing windows are filled with sand and sediment gathered nearby: at Rodeo Beach, the Presidio Shoal, Point Knox Shoal, and from the water near our own piers.
What’s got three wheels, one door, and vivid upside-down views of San Francisco’s Embarcadero? You guessed it: the Rickshaw Obscura. “It’s a variation on the classic camera obscura,” explains exhibit developer Eric Diamond, “but it’s mounted on a three-wheeled bike.” The custom-built creation weighs 1000 pounds with a couple of passengers but is surprisingly easy to pedal. “Thankfully, it’s pretty flat around here,” adds Diamond, who was inspired by tales of a van-based camera obscura built by artist—and Exploratorium legend—Bob Miller.
An eerie orchestral chord floats on the breeze; it’s the shimmering sound of a 27-foot-tall harp being strummed by the wind. First built for the Exploratorium in 1976 by local artist Doug Hollis, the harp’s seven stretched strings are amplified at one end by large metal dishes. “The artist specifically sited this piece to take advantage of the natural wind tunnel here between Piers 15 and 17. The wind picks up every day at around two or three o’clock and that’s when it really sings,” says curator Shawn Lani.
DAYLAY is a dynamic light and sound installation that will be housed inside a fourteen-foot circular opening in the pier above the water, just outside the main entrance to the Exploratorium. Microphones will record ambient sound during daylight hours and then play the audio back at night, delayed by twelve hours. LED lights reflecting off the water will gradually grow brighter and brighter over the course of the night. As a result, 8:00 p.m. will sound and look like 8:00 a.m.; 12:00 a.m. will look and sound like 12:00 p.m.