The six Harvard faculty members who served on the jury for the second biennial Radcliffe Public Art Competition had a difficult job selecting the winning design for the next installation in the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Garden in Radcliffe Yard. Twenty-two teams—and a total of 46 students—submitted projects to the competition. As Lizabeth A. Cohen, dean of the Radcliffe Institute and a member of the jury, remarked, "We created the Public Art Competition at the Radcliffe Institute to give Harvard students the opportunity to design projects for the Wallach Garden and, for the winning designers, to get hands-on experience moving from design to fully-realized installation. Once again this year, I was gratified to see the incredible creativity of Harvard students on display. We received submissions from across the University—from undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to students at the Graduate School of Design (HGSD) and the Law School. It was hard to choose just one, and the jury commends all the participants."
Ultimately, the judges chose Latent (e)Scapes, submitted by HGSD student Christina Geros MAUD, MLA ’15, from a short list of five designs. Latent (e)Scapes transposes a very different kind of biome, associated with the prairies and grasslands of other parts of the country, to Radcliffe Yard. It proposes to harmonize this dislocation in a remarkable way, by lighting and placing in motion each synthetic blade of grass through innovative technology,” observes Yukio Lippit, director of the arts program, Academic Ventures at the Radcliffe Institute, professor of history of art and architecture in FAS, and a jury member. “As a result, the project has the potential to instill in the observer a subtle new awareness of topography, the urban environment, and the phenomenology of wind and ether."
Consisting of 1600 1/8-inch-diameter acrylic scapes of varying heights, Latent (e)Scapes, Christina Geros said, “recalls the long, leafless stalks common to several families of plants.” Lit from within and below by internal LED lighting, the stalks will be distributed across a series of small clusters and larger landscape berms of differing sizes and shapes that will invite pedestrian traffic from Radcliffe Yard and Brattle Street. The scapes will use a combination of infrared and ultrasound proximity sensors, which, Geros says, will allow them “to modulate light intensity in reaction to natural forces and the movement of pedestrians in the garden,” thus creating “an interactive kinetic landscape that responds to both human interaction and environmental factors.”
Christina Geros, who will receive a $10,000 award, will work with Radcliffe staff to build her design, to be unveiled at Radcliffe Day on May 29, 2015. The other four short-listed teams will each receive $500.