Art News

Art installation unleashes blinking, musical seesaws on downtown Dallas

Art installation unleashes blinking musical seesaws on downtown Dallas

Impulse seesaws
Ride my seesaw. Photo by Brian Wancho

A dozen giant glowing seesaws are coming to Dallas via an interactive art installation from Montreal called Impulse, which will land in downtown Dallas from April 13-May 6.

Impulse is an art installation of 12 seesaws, wired with LED lights and speakers. It's interactive: It gets brighter and emits sound when people climb on. By playing on the seesaws, visitors create dynamic light and sound waves.

Impulse debuted in 2015-2016 at the Place des Festivals, an outdoor plaza in Montreal's Cultural District. The goal was to encourage people to visit the arts district when events were not taking place. The installation was conceived as inclusive and engaging via its theme of urban play.

Creators Lola Sheppard and Conor Sampson say that the project had two tasks: to occupy a big space, and to make a connection between light and sound, with the person being the force that makes it all happen.

According to its website, Impulse was inspired by the cover of the Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures. That album cover art — showing a black background with white parallel lines — is probably the best known in Joy Division's catalog, but wow, that's still a fairly underground kind of inspiration.

Their other inspiration was the music of minimalist Steve Reich, which plays with repetition, rhythm, and syncopation. This is possibly even more obscure, much applause goes their way. Although it seems like they're missing an opportunity, since there is an actual song called "Ride My See-Saw" by the Moody Blues.

The original installation in Montreal had 30 interactive acoustic illuminated seesaws that came in two lengths, forming units of light and sound that could be "played" by the public to create a temporal, ever-changing event.

With multiple seesaws shifting, their vertical motion creates a dynamic light and sound wave. Its use of serialism, repetition, and variation produces zones of intensity and calm within a large public space.

When not in use, the seesaws revert to a horizontal position and remain at a lower glowing level, just a band of dimmed light.

Impulse will be installed in Dallas in two consecutive locations:

  • April 13-22: Sammons Park at 2403 Flora St., in partnership with AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District
  • April 25-May 6: Main Street Garden at 1902 Main St.

It will be open from 8 am-11 pm daily.

The installation will kick off with the free Changing Perspectives Block Party in the Dallas Arts District on April 13 from 6 pm-midnight and will feature Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, food truck fare, local brews, family-friendly games, pop-ups, and featured performances by local and national artists, photo booth, and community mural.