The Ornithopter 夢想實驗號
Location: Tamar, Hong Kong
Client: Art Promotion Office LCSD
Completion: June 2022
The pursuit of flight has always been a fantasy of humans over the course of history. From Leonardo da Vinci’s sketch of the ornithopter to the first bi-plane test flight across the Hong Kong airspace in 1911, humankind went through countless unceasing trials, setbacks and failures.
This artwork is inspired by the mechanics of the flying machines. Installed with a pair of double-stack flapping wings and bicycles' mechanical system, the Ornithopter perches on the lawn, casting flickering shadows to create an enjoyable shaded public space. It interacts with the public and lets them experience the journey of restless hard work in realising one's dream.
As learnt from the old plane structures, we adopted a triangular geometry which is strong yet light. All steel structures are connected in delicate pin-joints, making it easy to be relocated and reinstalled anywhere in the future. The structures float above ground and are supported off the linear wood bench, reminiscing the bi-plane which is about to take-off.
Wings cantilever out from the structure, offering extensive shades to the platform below, where people gather to ride the bikes, rest on the bench, lie on the floor, or simply hang around to appreciate the moving gears. We scattered layers of pebbles around the platform, denoting a stage amid the lawn , and marked an access path for people to approach the artwork with the best view.
Once a visitor pedals on the bicycle wheels, the pair of double-stacked wings slowly flap up and down. The wings’ interweaving fins converge and diverge periodically, encouraging visitors to grit their teeth and keep pedalling on. Light, shadow and rhythm can all be played in real-time by the participants.
Two bicycle-machines are installed where the faster wheel regulates the speed of the flapping wings. Therefore the two participants would curiously interact with each other too.
Through interacting with the artwork the public can feel their power to transform the space around them.
As the wheels spin, the system activates. Oil tank beneath the bench would pump liquid to drive the motor concealed in the hovering white mesh. Motor rotates the axis which drives the fins' tips up and down, flapping the whole wings in a precise rhythm; Meticulous calibration results in the mesmerising interwoven patterns.
If the flapping wings symbolise our pursuit of dreams, then pedaling the bikes symbolises that we are taking action, and persistently working out our dreams.
People and City
The Ornithopter creates a dialogue with the public, bringing the users' influence into the work that can instantly transform the surrounding environment.
The rhythm of the flapping wings echoes with the speed of the city, generating energy to activate the public space.
Public Art Installation Location: Tamar Park, Hong Kong
Commissioned by: Art Promotion Office, Leisure and Cultural Services Department for Science in Art, Art@Harbour HIRS Design
Team: Regina Chen, Irene Cheng, Fannia Chung, Howard Chung, Paul Chung, Jeannie Ho, Ian Leung, Yuyu Ng
Construction: Hattrick Creative
Photography by: HDP Photography
Video Production: Heyman Chan's Production