Dazzling Rainwater Collecting Sculptures in Italy

Written by KARTIK VARMA

Floating above a clearing in a grove of pine trees, john grade studio’s ‘reservoir’ sculpture comprises an accumulation of five thousand delicate rainwater-collection droplets. Each droplet, individually heat-formed and framed in steam-bent wood, is attached to one of two clear filament nets suspended from the overhead canopy of trees. The glassy amassment expresses a continually transforming volume. As rainwater or snow accumulates in the droplets, the position and profile of the nets lower and shift. As the collected water evaporates, the form is alleviated, returning to its original condition. The vertical range of motion is limited by sheathed springs below pulleys so the sculpture remains at least ten feet above the ground.

As little as a very light rain creates enough downward movement to be visually comprehended by viewers below. While the john grade studio sculpture weighs 70 pounds when dry, it can exceed 800 pounds when filled by a heavy rainfall. In an act of performance art, ‘reservoir’ will periodically by manually manipulated to rise and fall, engaging with the choreographed movements of dancers below. The sloping topography surrounding the site offers viewers both a vantage directly below the cloud-like mass as well as a view slightly above the ever changing midline of the sculpture.

The cluster comprises 5000 heat-formed plastic droplets wrapped around steam-bent strips of alaskan yellow cedar attached with fishing line to a pair of marine nets. The nets have been designed to generate a fluted tapering from above and a larger cupping below. The nets are supported by central stainless steel rings, measuring two feet in diameter, which serve to maintain a tension between the low centers of the nets and supportive tree trunks above. Sheathed springs on ten tree trunks allow the lower net to incrementally descend twelve feet as the water weight accumulates in the droplets then gradually rise as the water evaporates.

Project Information

Project title: Reservoir
Artist: John Grade studio
Location: Arte Sella Sculpture park, Borgo Valsugana, Trento, Italy.
Material: vacuum-formed plastic, wood, netting, cables, springs
Upper net dimensions: 8’ 6”h x 18’ 6” x 17’
Lower net dimensions: 8’h x 28’ 6” x 24’ 6”
Project year: 2018

About the author

KARTIK VARMA