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August 1, 2014 at 9:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Web of Bamboo Lauds the Creative Process and Conviviality

By Becky from SLN More Blogs by This Author

What do you get when you mix two American artists, 25 rock climbers, 10,000 bamboo poles, and 80,000 meters of rope?

A 52.5 feet tall, 7,500+ square feet interactive sculpture that is—quite simply—amazing.

Photo credit: "5,000 Arms to Hold You" in Jerusalem, Israel.

Photo credit: A winding, helix-style path.

Artists Doug and Mike Starn, along with their team of rock climbers, worked without an initial design or plan to create 5,000 Arms to Hold You, a “web of bamboo that embraces visitors and is representative of the myriad connections that contribute to all individuals’ continual states of becoming.” The piece is the largest and most complex sculpture that the artists have undertaken with bamboo, their signature medium.

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The bamboo is light-weight and flexible, but also strong and durable, allowing the brothers to create architectural and interactive art. The artists and their rock climbing team built the structure from within (scaffolding and outside support were not used), lashing the bamboo poles together with nylon climbing rope.

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Photo credit: Rock climbers assemble the New York structure.

The project began in April at the Israel Museum’s Billy Rose Art Garden in Jerusalem, and became open to the public on June 16, though visitors were able to watch the daily shaping of the sculpture before the official opening. Visitors are invited to climb in, up, and around the sculpture’s intimate and winding paths, elevated platforms, and tower peaks, enjoying unique sculptural elements and cultural programming as they explore. The piece is intended to be viewed from the inside and the outside, encouraging visitors to use different vantage points to examine their perception of the world.

Photo credit: Visitors climb and explore "5,000 Arms to Hold You."

This monument in Israel is the ninth installment of the artists’ Big Bambú series, which began in September 2008 in the Starns’ studio in Beacon, New York. The continually evolving sculpture represents the interconnectedness of life, which is a guiding philosophy for the brothers as they create their art. “Big Bambú represents the invisible architecture of life and living things,” they say. “It is the random interdependence of moments, trajectories intersecting, and actions becoming interaction, creating growth and change. It is philosophic engineering, a demonstration of chaotic interdependence.”

Photo credit: A double helix in the Starns' Beacon studio.

The identical twin brothers, known for their photography, sculpture, and architecture that merge traditionally separate mediums, debuted Big Bambú on April 27, 2010 on the roof of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The structure became the ninth most attended exhibition in the museum’s history and the fourth most visited exhibition worldwide that year. At its completion, You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop measured 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 50 feet high. The sculpture, in the form of a cresting wave, used 5,000 interlocking 30-40 foot bamboo poles lashed together with 50 miles of nylon rope.

Photo credit: "You Can't, You Don't, and You Won't Stop" at the Met.

“The reason we had to make it so big is to make all of us feel small—or at least to awaken us to the fact that individually we are not so big," says Doug Starn. "Once we’re aware of our true stature we can feel a part of something much more vast than we could ever have dreamed of before."

Photo credit: A path in "You Can't, You Don't, and You Won't Stop."

Other commissioned installments of Big Bambú have been built in Venice, Rome, and Japan. In each location, the Starns build the structure to characterize its surroundings. The Israel installment is the first piece in a setting without architectural constraints.

“Each Big Bambú sculpture is part of the same living organism, continually reconstructed from its own materials, persistently moving forward," say the brothers. "This idea, for us, is about cultures, societies, relationships, me, you, and the world itself; all these are made of countless individual elements (or experiences) — all in some way interconnected to the others.”

The 2011 Venice installment features a 50 foot tall hollow tower, with an upward spiral toward a 20 foot wide rooftop lounge. The Starns used 2,000 fresh bamboo poles in addition to fragments cut from the New York installation. “We grafted a new Big Bambú and used 1,000 poles from the Met as stem cells. The Venice piece is still the Metropolitan piece but also a new one; Big Bambú is always growing and changing and becoming something new—as we all are.”

Photo credit: Big Bambú in Venice.

Photo credit: Looking up through the hollow tower.

The 2012 Rome structure, Minotaur Horn Head, reaches over 130 feet high and features double helix stairs and labyrinth paths that allow a 360 degree perspective view. This installment took 10 weeks to build and features 6,000 bamboo poles and 60 miles of rock climber’s rope.

Photo credit: Building "Minotaur Horn Head."

The Starn brothers won the international award Enel Contemporanea for this piece, as it is a sculpture that “embraces organics and life and demonstrates the ability to draw in the spectator and englobe the viewer as an integrating part of the process. The series in bamboo is in reality an ‘anti-monument’ that lauds the creative process and conviviality.”

Photo credit: dmstarn.comBig Bambú in Rome.

The Japan installment, built in 2013, is located in a bamboo forest on the island of Teshima. In the form of a large fishing boat (70 feet long, 60 feet high), Big Bambú floats on a canopy of living bamboo. A winding walkway of Bambú is tied directly to several hundred living bamboo stalks, allowing visitors to “swim” through the canopy before climbing aboard.

Photo credit: One of the Starn brothers lashes bamboo together.

A view from the bow of the boat looks out on the bamboo sea, the inland Seto Sea, and a distant neighboring island. A trip below the deck and into the hull allows the visitor to see the complex interdependent structure that creates the boat and connects it with the sea of living bamboo. The boat even has an observation bubble—thought up in a dream—at the bow.

Photo credit: Big Bambú floats on a sea of bamboo in Teshima, Japan. The extended bamboo poles depict fishing poles and splashes of water.

To see more unique artwork and further coverage of Big Bambú, visit the Starns’ website.

Sources: Big Bambú Big Bambu is a creation made out of 10,000 bamboo poles

Photo credit: Big Bambú

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