The PLIGHT OF THE PRISMATIC PYRAMID

My pal and collaborator, John E. Bannon received a Request For Proposal for a piece of art from the Wicker Park Fest, as they were not too happy with proposals they had received. They knew of his work from previous installations for the Fest on Milwaukee Avenue, Universe, (a mirror ball mannequin) and Eye Candy, a Pop Art sculpture in the Claes Oldeneburg vein.  Since we were sitting on about a hundred triangular rainbow projecting tiles left over from our previous hit, the Spectral Igloo, why not put them to good use and maybe even make a little spending cash? (Allerton owned the dome, we owned the tiles from that installation.)

The Spectral Igloo, Winter 2021-22Rainbow Igloo

Rainbow Projecting Tiles can be thought of as holograms of prisms and lenses, as they disperse and focus light like their bulky chunks of glass counterparts, but in a thin sheet of plastic. In the holography industry, they are acronymized as HOE's for Holographic Optical Elements, but in this case Holographic Optical Embellishment is preferred.

In the photo below one can see the first sunlight coming through a side of the almost completed Prismatic Pyramid in Ed's backyard and its component colors focused on the concrete of his driveway.  The rainbows are fuzzy because the protective cover sheets have not yet been removed from the plexiglass sheets that the tiles are attached to. The Tiles are made in Ed's Holography Studio behind the Pyramid.

Rainbow Projecting Tiles In Action
Rainbows being Projected

Since the Holographic Optical Embellishments for the Igloo had been trimmed to equilateral triangles 40 cm (16") on a side to fit in its vacancies, the simplest three dimensional shape that could tessellate them efficiently would be one with triangular sides, namely a pyramid.  There was a debate over the base being square or triangular like the sides, but square won out, as then the crowds could flow through the piece, rather than in and then out through the same opening.  Confident that we had a winner, we made a maquette and thought we had responded to " WHAT MAKES A GOOD PROPOSAL" as appropriately as possible; our responses (below in italics) to the questions below must have been the correct ones!.

Prismatic Pyramid Maquette, Eye Level
Maquette, Eye Level

Prismatic Pyramid Maquette, Overhead ViewMaquette Overhead View

WHAT MAKES A GOOD PROPOSAL:
• Installations and works of art that are interactive, compelling, professional, self-contained, entertaining, and visually engaging  The interactivity comes from the viewer dancing around to see different perspectives of the floating rainbows.  It is compelling as not every day one sees rainbows floating in space.  We hope we can be considered professional at this stage of our careers.  It is self-contained except the need for power to light it up.
• A novel experience that provokes conversation, contemplation, excitement, and whimsy  Conversation starters are like, "what is it?" "how do they do it?  Contemplate on what exactly what are we looking at, light passing through clear sheets of plastic being split into its component colors.  Excitement generated by focusing the light coming out of the structure onto the viewer  Whimsy from "Pyramid Power"
• Accessible and appropriate for a large, diverse demographic  We know this demographic loves its rainbows
• Programmed for a minimum of 6 hours up to a maximum of 10 hours, between the hours of noon and 10 pm for each day of the festival (proposals that are activated for the entire fest and don’t require downtime are significantly more likely to be selected)  It's solar powered except for the light source, which just needs to be plugged in and should need no other attention.
• Suitable for family viewing or participation  Guaranteed kid-proof, no double entendres or naughty bits showing.  Breakable stuff out of harm's way.
• Engages the public in the viewing experience  The public can focus rainbows onto themselves.  (Just as much fun but not as gross as burning ants with a magnifying glass.)
• Free-standing (non-reliant on any surrounding building structures or walls)  Yes
• Adaptable to unexpected weather conditions  With Plexiglas side out and HOE's on inside, rain should just roll off it.  Might be able to withstand high winds better than the last one!
• Easy to set up and maintain for the entirety of the festival weekend  We shall make it that way.

So we got the go-ahead and the upfront money and the race was on!  We ordered up some of the grownup version of an Erector Set, trade name Dexion, the kind of slotted angle iron that warehouse shelves are made of, along with plexiglass to cover the frame to attach the Rainbow Projecting Tiles to, and cranked out about another hundred HOE's, finally finishing construction in the backyard of the Home + Studio of E. Wesly & Sons on the Wednesday night before the Friday installation.

Dexion Skeleton
Dexion Skeleton

The structure taking shape, the perimeter of both of the completely covered sides was formed by a trio of 12 foot long angle irons. The near and far sides of the Pyramid will be fleshed out with pieces of Plexiglass that the Rainbow Projecting Tiles will be attached to.

It was like putting together the biggest project your Erector Set could build, except we had to write the instructions ourselves, which of course means plenty of false starts and waste of time and material, but not so much that we had the Pyramid seeing first light the 2 days before it was due to be installed!  We could see how well it spread out sunlight into its spectrum, and we added some 20 Watt halogen spot lights to its base, passing light out of the pyramid and projecting rainbows on my house and the neighbors!

I didn't have the energy when we finished up for the night to get out my camera and tripod to record this incredible display, so I went in for a nap, setting my internal alarm clock for 2 or 3 in the AM to take the pictures before the sun came up, but unfortunately that didn't happen.  But I figured that there would be plenty of time to document it  properly when the Pyramid would return home after the Fest and be reborn in my backyard.

Just Before Sunrise

But no, I was awakened by the buzzing of the alarm clock at 6 AM, which is when there is a nice rosy glow to the sky just before the sun breaks over the horizon, which overpowered the rainbows from the 50 Watt halogens.  Oh well!  I'll capture that effect at the site, or when the Pyramid returns home. But here's a taste of of it.

The rainbows seen from this view point do not paint the whole picture, as when a viewer walks past it, each panel lights up with a different set of rainbows floating inside and outside of the structure.

So the next day we took it apart for transportation on John's El Camino to his garage, where it would stay overnight.  We met at the Fest at the appointed time, and were quite pleasantly surprised to find ourselves asking each other what do we have to do a half hour before the Fest officially opened, and the answer was nothing!  We proved once again we were pros!

So we were in artists' heaven, grooving on how good it looked, just the way we liked it, sitting on a couple of camping chairs, watching the Fest goers grooving on looking at our work, taking pictures of themselves and their dogs and kids, inside and outside of it.  Of course we were too tired to take pictures of all of this as it had been a couple of non-stop weeks getting to this point, with some free beer and vaping adding to the lethargy.  Anyhow, we could take care of the documentation the next day, after a good night's sleep.

Well, that was not to be.  I got a call from John at about 9:00 AM the next morning, telling me that the Pyramid had been vandalized after we had left the scene!  It seems that a roving gang of gangbangers decided to take a group shot of themselves leaning against it, and discovered that their combined weight was taxing the structural steel, so they kept pressing their gluteus maximuses against the seam and bent the angle iron!

The First Side Takes a Beating
1st Side Web

The picture was sent to John by one of the vendors who was cleaning up and heard the crash.  Allegedly he has a picture of the perpetrators, but I haven't seen it.  And when I went to talk to the crew at that vendor's tent on Sunday, nobody knew nothing about nothing,

I talked to one of the women in the wine tent in the background of the shot above,and she saw it happen, but didn't think that they did it on purpose. She said that a group of 6 or 7 art aficionados decided to sit on the 1/3rd  seam while having a group mug shot taken, taking down the south side, then a bit later another group decided to make the poor pyramid symmetric by putting their weight on its north side for a similar shoot.  But The Pyramid still defiantly projects rainbows into its inner sanctum even with its wings splayed out!  But nobody can walk through it at this height and enjoy the rainbows projected onto their bodies! 

When I Got There The Next Day
Flatened

Despite being only 2/3 of its normal height, the Pyramid still projects rainbows onto the tarmac! But only toddlers can creep under it now to feel the effect of the spectrum.

And we know who did it, they tagged the storefront window behind it with their signature; the trident shaped icon at the left is a logo made of an I stuck through a U, and I don't think it stands for the similar looking logo of the University of Illinois but I do believe that it is more than likely that of The Insane Unknowns, ("Pimp Players and Lady Layers" their recruiting slogan painted on a wall I once saw).  So I am sure that the final moments of the Pyramid can be found on their social media pages.  But they ain't getting an invite to the Pyramid's resurrection party like you will, as it will rise again in my back yard, once the insurance money comes through! 

The Tag of the Culprits
Taggers Galore

We went down on Saturday thinking about "picking up the pieces" (instead of documenting its various phases throughout the day as planned) but since we were contractually obligated to take let it stay up though the whole fair, John posted a sign to reinvent the piece and explain the situation.

Retitled
Retitle

I couldn't stand being down there the rest of the day, as the stage that we had been grooving at the previous night had some kind of much too loud music that I could only imagine as the kind of music you listen to while wrecking art or wreaking havoc.  And I just stayed home moping most of Sunday, still crushed by the experience, just getting to the Fest a few hours before it closed to take it apart and bring it home.  And hopefully scrape up enough dough to get some more materials and rebuild it!

Streetlight Rainbows

Streetlight Rainbows

Even the streetlight shines spectrally through the sad Pyramid.

Reflected Streetlight
Reflected Streetlight

Viewed at certain angles the Pyramid reflects rainbows at the viewer, here powered by streetlighting.

Rainbows On Buildings
Could have had rainbows

On Friday night, the Pyramid's tiles took the light from halogen bulbs in it and projected their light onto the buildings across the street, and in a few lucky cases, onto the ceiling of the occupants there! But being too wasted on Friday from all the activity, plus the fact that the camera was a few blocks away which would have required some major effort, so let's enjoy the moment and take care of the documentation on Saturday night when we return. But who even thinks that their magnum opus would get destroyed overnight? So without using Phtoshop imagine rainbows on the building and inside the apartments.

So now the pieces sit in my garage, with the hope of getting some dough to rebuild it from a Kickstarter proposal! It will rise again!

The artists can be reached at
eweslystudio@gmail.com (Ed Wesly)
and
jeb@johnebannon.com (John E. Bannon)