Inigo Manglano-Ovalle

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle's "Weather Field" installation is designed to create a "microclimate" in the air.

Lots of artists want to change thoughts and opinions. Few try to change the weather.

Yet that's the task that Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle is proposing for a new public park in Santa Monica. The Chicago-based artist, a recipient of the MacArthur "genius grant," has drafted plans for a tall sculpture called "Weather Field" to stand in Santa Monica Commons, one of two yet-constructed green spaces designed by James Corner Field Operations. That company also designed the High Line in lower Manhattan, another park that is heavy on not-your-average public art.

The sculpture is a field of tall poles topped with spinning anemometers and little rudders or paddles. It looks like a forest of alien lightning poles. But it's in the concept that things get really interesting. According to the local Daily Press:

The weather instrumentation will move under the power of the sea breezes, each influencing the direction of the air like the runnels of the park itself to create a small microclimate in the air above the site.

Don't you need a permit for installing something that changes the weather? And what kind of microclimate are we talking about? Steamy? Dry? Sleety? Will there be any tornadoes involved?

In this case, there's not much of a concern. The weather-altering ability of this sculpture maxes out at making the air slightly more turbulent right around the installation. You might be able to notice it if you have extremely sensitive skin or have brought your own weather sock to test the flow. Of course, with the Butterfly Effect some might argue that "Weather Field" could be triggering volcanoes in Indonesia, but that'd be hard to pin on Manglano-Ovalle in a court of law.

Meteorology is a preoccupation of this particular artist. Other examples of his weather-work include "Climate," a piece that appears, just on first impression, to have little to do with the actual climate, and these metal prototypes for clouds.
 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Young students walking towards a  modern wood building surrounded by snow and trees
    Environment

    Norway’s Energy-Positive Building Spree Is Here

    Oslo’s Powerhouse collective wants buildings that make better cities in the face of climate change.

  2. A photo of shoppers in the central textile market of downtown Jakarta.
    Design

    How Cities Design Themselves

    Urban planner Alain Bertaud’s new book, Order Without Design, argues that cities are really shaped by market forces, not visionaries.

  3. A photo of Andrew Field, the owner of Rockaway Taco, looking out from his store in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York.
    Life

    Tacos and Transit: Rate Your City

    From taco-rich San Diego to the tortilla wastelands of Boston, we asked you to grade U.S. cities on two critical metrics: Mexican food and public transportation.

  4. A photo of an encampment of homeless people outside Minneapolis,
    Equity

    Why Minneapolis Just Made Zoning History

    The ambitious Minneapolis 2040 plan will encourage more dense housing development in single-family neighborhoods.

  5. A photo of a Christmas tree in downtown Rome.
    Life

    The Tree That Ruined Your City’s Christmas

    From Rome to Baltimore, the quality of the municipal Christmas tree can expose a city’s deeper failures.