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In a harmonious blend of artistry and environmental reverence, the grounds of Apple Park in California have become the canvas for a mesmerizing outdoor sculpture known as “Mirage.” Conceived through a collaboration between acclaimed artist Katie Paterson and the innovative architectural minds at Zeller & Moye, this ethereal installation made its debut at yesterday’s Apple Keynote presentation.
A Tapestry of Earthly Elements
Mirage, nestled within the olive grove adjacent to the Apple Park Visitor’s Center, comprises over four hundred gracefully contoured glass columns, weaving seamlessly through the existing trees. These cylindrical wonders were meticulously crafted from sands sourced from deserts scattered across our planet, a feat achieved through a partnership with UNESCO, geologists, and international communities. In the words of artist Katie Paterson, “Sand, so ubiquitous across Earth, is a marker of time. Mirage creates an experience of being enveloped by Earth’s sublime spaces… Our hope is that Mirage creates a sensory experience that will ignite the imagination, connect visitors to the vastness of the Earth, and its precious wilderness.”
The Alchemy of Glass
Mirage’s glass columns, each standing at a striking two meters in height, were meticulously cast by expert glass artisans under the guidance of material scientists. Unique glass recipes were devised for each desert, resulting in pillars that boast subtle variations in color and texture. This architectural marvel not only demonstrates a profound material presence but also manages to harmonize with its natural surroundings.
During daylight hours, the sculpture dances with iridescence, while in the evening, it gently radiates its inner glow. Observing the interplay of light within Mirage becomes an act of meditation, where time appears to stand still. Visitors are invited to engage with the artwork, strolling alongside and through it, as the glass seamlessly melds with the landscape, akin to a mirage in the desert.
A Natural Oasis and Social Gathering Place
Architect Christoph Zeller elucidates how the sculpture seamlessly integrates with the park’s natural beauty, remarking, “The glass bars are arranged as a series of curved walls that meander through the grid of olive trees, defining a semi-enclosed space similar to an interior garden. The spatial composition activates the existing park landscape by creating an unexpected social and contemplative gathering place for visitors and staff to relax, to lay down on the grass, to have a picnic or to play.”
A Global Endeavor
Mirage’s creation spanned many years and involved the concerted efforts of hundreds of individuals across the globe. Glass experts at Delft University of Technology analyzed sands from diverse deserts worldwide to predict the composition and coloration of each glass column. Custom glass recipes were then painstakingly developed in collaboration with the artists. Jim Myers at East Bay Batch and Color mixed the material, while John Lewis Glass in Oakland, California, brought the vision to life by crafting hundreds of columns using sands from 70 different deserts.
The engineering prowess of Eckersley O’Callaghan was instrumental in Mirage’s realization, and Apple enlisted Artsource Consulting to facilitate the project’s global artist search and guide it to completion. Lastly, a group of artists spearheaded the sand collection, with UNESCO’s International Geoscience and Geoparks program and countless individuals worldwide lending their support.
A Reverie Amidst the Olive Grove
Mirage, a symbol of unity and reverence for our planet’s remarkable diversity, now stands as a testament to human creativity and collaboration. Located within the serene confines of Apple Park’s olive grove, it offers visitors a meditative and transcendent experience, where the timeless beauty of Earth converges with the artistry of our time. In a world marked by rapid change, Mirage reminds us to pause, reflect, and connect with the profound wonders of our planet.
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