Orbs is a multimedia installation inviting viewers to engage with multi-dimensional beings who offer reassurance, comfort and consolation. This extraordinary time of living through a global pandemic has resulted in loss, despair, and sorrow. Orbs is an interactive experience that is both a memorial to our collective bereavement as well an environment that uplifts the community. Installed in the Taos Plaza Gazebo are a series of 3D printed figures that pulse with glowing light. As the viewer approaches motion sensors are activated that trigger color shifts and voice recordings offering encouragement and inspiring thoughts. Mounted on the ceiling and surrounding a large spinning disco ball are a series of animatronic mirror ball eyes that wink down upon the viewers. They are the all-seeing eyes shining down from above. From all directions, video projections cast color and beams of light around the space, transforming it into a liminal or “threshold” space that invokes “crossing over” between our world and another. A space not unlike an ecstatic dance club environment. The center of the gazebo is left open, encouraging viewers to move, shift and possibly dance throughout the space.
The figures are inspired by religious, cultural, and contemporary iconography, such as 17th century Spanish Bultos – carved statues that depict saints and angels; mid-19th century Victorian mourning dolls, which are life-sized wax effigies created in remembrance of a deceased child; and avatars – figurative icons represented in popular culture, video games, and the internet. Avatars are also Hindu manifestations of deities in an earthly form.
The space calls upon the feeling of a nightclub atmosphere, much like the ancient tradition of the merry wake – a funeral that is presented as a party to honor the dead, complete with dancing, food, and lively entertainment. The aesthetic is informed by Gothic and Renaissance ceilings with twinkling stars and putti – child angels – on the ceiling, and also Descansos – roadside memorials – a tradition derived from the Spanish descanso, meaning a place of rest, as in a funeral procession. Today, many of these memorials are adorned with objects and LED lights with mechanized and brilliantly colored flowers or butterflies.
Orbs invites viewers to be caught up in glittering visions and embodied sounds in a place that reacts to their presence and motion.