Louise Franklin, August 15, 2013
Design duo Amanda Schachter and Alexander Levi, who together make up Slo Architecture, have unveiled an installation on New York’s Harlem River, creating a huge bubble from found and reused objects.
Close-up, the spiky exterior of Shachter and Levi’s Harvest Dome looks like it’s been constructed from semi-blown dandelion clocks. Detail photographs of the installation are deceptive, however, obscuring the fact that the dome is actually comprised of 450 umbrella frames, found by the pair discarded on the streets of the city, and bound into the frame of the bubble.
Whilst the dome conveys a sense of sparseness and ephemerality, the structure is solid, with the spokes of the umbrella frames interlocking and holding the entire piece together, and empty bottles used as flotation devices to keep the dome upright. Taking a month to assemble, the bubble was transported by barge and tug boat, before being firmly anchored in the river.
In actual fact, this dome is the duo’s second attempt at installing a metallic bubble on the river. The pair attempted to create a dome back in 2011, only to be defeated by the Harlem’s strong river currents. To get their second attempt afloat, they turned to Kickstarter for some financial backing, as well as local architecture schools for structural advice.
The piece makes obvious comments on the ever-constant accumulation of trash, and the expendable nature of everyday objects. That said, it’s easy to allow immediate, and obvious, conclusions to detract from the geometric beauty of the installation. As well as making a statement, the dome works as an aesthetic piece, and one that asks questions about where the lines of public art and architecture are drawn.