16' from ceiling x 30' wide x 14' deep
Handmade glass, stainless steel wire, 3D printed PET, LEDs, steel armature, custom programming
Noorda Center for the Performing Arts
Commissioned by the State of Utah, Division of Arts and Museums
Virga: Latin meaning ‘rod’, ‘stripe’, ‘branch’.
1. (meteorology) A streak of rain or snow that is dissipated in falling and does not reach the ground, commonly appearing descending from a cloud layer.
2. (music) A type of note used in plainsong notation, having a tail.
3. (measurement) A unit of length: a rod, pole or perch.
Our site-specific sculpture Virga is inspired by the complex natural phenomenon of light and water vapor and the gestural ridge lines of the Wasatch Range. In meteorology, virga is a shaft of precipitation that falls from a cloud but evaporates before reaching the ground. This observable phenomenon bends light via water particles, appearing as a streak in the sky suggesting rain. At high altitudes the precipitation falls mainly as ice crystals before melting and finally evaporating. Our sculpture aesthetically responds to these clouds that are often visible floating over Utah Valley.
Virga is created with 1650 individually suspended rods in the form of elongated rain drops. The rhythmic layers of glass create varying areas of density and sparsity to form an ethereal cloud as the lens-like ends catch and bend light. Virga is a physically dynamic work, appearing differently depending on the audience’s viewpoint. As the viewer shifts position from outside and within the lobby, the droplets seem as if organized in a linear formation from below and present a complex moiré pattern from the sides and the balconies.
Virga is a semi-transparent shifting spectacle that transforms with the changing light of the day. During the daylight hours the glass is the dominant material, reflecting the natural light through the windows. In the early morning sunrise and throughout the evening, the programmable and individually controllable LED lighting is most visible, offering another opportunity for visual transformation. Virga’s custom lighting program transforms real time environmental data drawn from high-elevation weather stations. Data points include wind speed and direction, cloud cover, humidity, precipitation, and temperature, among others, that recreate the cloud conditions in light. Each day, the sunrise and sunset are emulated and extended in light throughout the sculpture, connecting the UVU audience to their environment.