Santa Monica, California
In 2010, Ball-Nogues Studio was commissioned by the City of Santa Monica to create an installation for the exterior of a parking structure located at a shopping mall designed by Frank Gehry. Inspired by Newton’s Cradle, the piece demonstrates the conservation of momentum and energy via a series of hanging spheres. Yet, unlike Newton’s design, the project employs gigantic polished stainless steel spheres suspended by individual cables. To create a modernized version of its predecessor, “sphere packing” computer software was utilized.
Sphere packing, or the phenomenon where multiple balls squeezed together self-organize as a result of gravity, allowed the designers to visualize the Cradle before its creation in the physical world.
Located in a highly trafficked area, the aggregation of balls is suspended above bystanders, whose distorted images are reflected back at them.
Going much further than the initial Newton reference, the designers envisioned the symbology of the Cradle to be much more provocative. The piece was meant to resemble a banana hammock, like the ones men wear at the beach, or even a female reproductive system. Each passerby created a new inference for the piece, and although the symbology behind the installation is quite comical, its execution was quite extraordinary.
images © Benjamin Ball, Ayodh Kameth, and Monica Nouwens
info © Ball-Nogues Studio