Consisting of over 500 freely-rotating directional arrows, Windswept transforms a blank wall into a large-scale observational instrument that reveals the complex interactions between the wind and the environment. The artwork was funded by the Art Enrichment monies generated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s capital projects.
Wind gusts, rippling and swirling through the sculpture, illustrate the myriad and ever-changing ways the wind interacts with the building. Inspired by the maritime wind direction indicators found on sailboats, the arrows, which are mounted parallel to the façade in a grid, serve as discrete data points that provide a sample of the wind at its point of contact with the Museum. The arrows indicate the direction of the distinct air flows that comprise the larger wind phenomenon.
According to the artist, Charles Sowers, “I’m generally interested in creating instrumentation that allows us insight into normally invisible or unnoticed phenomena. The Randall site, like many in San Francisco, is characterized, to a great extent, by its relationship to the wind.” Science (especially the field of non-equilibrium pattern formation) serves as a deep resource for creative ideas.