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  • How Does Your Garden Glow?

Photonics Spectra
Oct 2015
JUSTINE MURPHY, EDITOR, justine.murphy@photonics.com

Gardens are typically better enjoyed in daylight, right? A new art installation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Georgia begs to differ.

The “Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden” outdoor art exhibition showcases installations created with hundreds of miles of fiber optics. A British artist known for his use of light as a medium, Munro drew his inspiration for the exhibit from “everything from childhood humor to meditation.”

Eden Blooms
Eden Blooms. Photo courtesy of Mark Pickthall.

“At dusk, the Garden [becomes] this enchanting yet natural landscape that visitors just have to see to believe,” said Garden President and CEO Mary Pat Matheson.

Six different site-specific installations are featured, from immersive environments to sculptures, throughout the gardens and inside the conservatories. Munro’s exhibit demonstrates his “love of experimentation through flickering light tubes, LED-lit bottles and innovative repurposed materials” such as fiber optics and recyclable plastic bottles.

The most notable installation, Forest of Light, displays more than 30,000 flower-like spheres of light on thin stems, covering the Storza Woods area of the garden. According to information from the Botanical Garden, this is a massive display that can be experienced from the ground, as well as the Canopy Walk that sits above. Munro presents it as a “personal symbol for the good things in life.” This display was adapted from “Field of Light,” Munro’s exhibition that was featured in 2004 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Forest of Light
Forest of Light. Photo courtesy of Jason Getz.

Water Towers is another installation on display. Located near the garden’s Fuqua Conservatory Aquatic Pond, it features a series of 6-foot-tall illuminated columns that stand in circular formation. The 20 towers are each constructed from 216 recycled plastic bottles and threaded with fiber optic cables that pulse with color-changing light and music.

Stemming from Munro’s interest in the development and repetitive use of singular components, the Eden Blooms display is a series of futuristic flower-like blossoms encompassing a central spherical core. These pieces sit in the Fuqua Conservatory’s Rotunda and are meant to resemble vibrant, exotic tropical plants, similar to real ones already growing in the garden.

Water Towers
Water Towers. Photo courtesy of Jason Getz.

The other installations also on display are Beacon, a “superstructure of a geodesic dome” made from 2730 bottles and illuminated by interior colored light; Three Degrees, a “trio of curvaceous sculptural forms” covered in reflective material and suspended from fine threads of fiber optic cables; and Swing Low, “a cradle of giant illuminated spheres” suspended over the Fern Dell Fountain in the Southern Seasons Garden.


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