In this tale of creation, destruction and hope, holographic artist Ed Wesly relates the story of how his installation of holographic tiles for a festival in Chicago was commissioned, installed and then quickly vandalised… and what he’s going to do about it.
Ed Wesly is a self-taught holographic artist who has taught the subject at various institutions including The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College and the Lake Forest College Holography Workshops. Along with his collaborator, John E. Bannon, Ed was commissioned by the arts curators of the 2022 Wicker Park Fest in Chicago, Illinois to install a pyramid about 4 metres high, titled ‘Rainbow Projecting Hologram Tiles’.
When asked to describe hologram tiles, Ed said ‘Our tiles can be thought of as holograms not of an object but of the focusing properties of a lens and the dispersing properties of a prism. Sunlight passing through a flat plastic tile will focus a rainbow on the ground, or on anyone or thing standing in the correct spot.’ As part of the proposal to the festival curators, Ed and John mocked up a maquette of the pyramid to demonstrate the effect that would be seen by people (and animals) walking through the installation.
In the build up to the opening of the festival, the pair worked hard building the structure of the pyramid from Dexion (the slotted angle iron that warehouse shelves are made from) and recording around a hundred HOEs (Ed calls them Holographic Optical Embellishments rather than Holographic Optical Elements) – finishing construction of the piece in his home studio two days before the artwork was due to be installed.
Pyramid at home studio (© Ed Wesly and John E. Bannon).
On the day of the opening of the festival, the pyramid was transported to the festival site on Milwaukee Avenue which is lined with storefronts, restaurants and art galleries. After assembling the Rainbow Projecting Hologram Tiles, the pair were too tired to take photos but reckoned on documenting the artwork on the next day.
However, that was not meant to be. When the pair returned the following morning, they learnt that a roving group of vandals, snapping a self-portrait in front of the Pyramid after the Fest had closed for the night, had put all their weight onto the side of the Dexion and had managed to bend the frame made of industrial grade angle iron and collapse the pyramid. No one could walk under the pyramid, but, almost as an act of defiance, it continued to turn sunlight into rainbows!
Flattened Pyramid (© Ed Wesly and John E. Bannon).
As you can imagine, Ed and John were crestfallen. They put a fence around the display with a sign explaining the plight of the Prismatic Pyramid and vowed to fight back.
‘We need to rebuild The Pyramid to document it properly, to show its amazing properties to interested parties, so that it can go on the road and travel to other fests, or maybe even find a permanent home,’ said Ed. ‘With only about 1/3 of the original piece being reusable, it essentially needs to be rebuilt from scratch. More metal and plastic need to be bought not only for the structure, but to be used to fabricate more holographic tiles.’
And so it is that Ed has started a crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter titled ‘The Resurrection of The Rainbow Projecting Pyramid’ to help raise the funds to get the structure up and running again.
Not only will each donor have the knowledge of knowing that they are fighting back against the destruction of a piece of art, but for every $100 the donor pledges, they will receive a triangular tile recycled from remains of the installation, that Ed has christened ‘The Paralyzed Pyramid’, plus a fresh tile from the next production batch for ‘The New Prismatic Pyramid’, which will be an uncut sheet of rainbow projecting hologram film, 35cm by 43 cm. The idea being that donors can put them in their windows to turn sunlight into rainbows in their rooms, or wherever they like.
To learn more about the Kickstarter campaign click here.
The artists can be reached at email@example.com (Ed Wesly) and firstname.lastname@example.org (John E Bannon).