CoCA Blog

April Blog Post: CoCA Lab Featuring Britta Johnson

Posted by Shirene on April 26, 2017

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April CoCA Lab. Photo courtesy of Shirene Soleiman.



By Shirene Soleiman 


This past March and April, we were invited to dive (pun intended) into the world of Britta Johnson. Specifically, we were invited to dive into the Giant Whirl. What Britta had up her sleeve during CoCA Lab takes us back to 2012 when Dylan Mayer legally hunted a giant Pacific octopus, an action that ignited a conversation about how we need to treat our local and global habitat. Through Britta’s project that she previewed at CoCA UN[contained], she strives to achieve the goal of inspiring visitors to be proactive and take care of the habitat.

On two separate evenings, we had the chance to get an illuminating sneak peek of the Giant Whirl, which will be permanently installed at the Don Armeni Park in 2018. As one of three Seattle artists who were selected by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, in partnership with Seattle City Light, Britta created a work that was to be grounded on solar energy and sustainability. This was reflected in the LED lights she had installed as the focal point of her project.

Not only were these lights amazing to look at even from a distance, with their almost trancing bright shade of blue, but they were also fun to interact with and eye-opening in terms of what their real purpose was. If you moved close enough to the lights, a lively animation of an octopus would take place. In its nearly ghostly form, this octopus would drift across the screen and curl its tentacles in smooth motions. These motion-triggering lights seemed like a way of establishing a connection between the viewer and the subject of the octopus as if to remind the viewer that we are all connected in the shared ecosystem we live in, and that therefore our nature deserves to be cherished. I believe when this Giant Whirl is installed at the Don Armeni Park, this message will be delivered even more powerfully.

Another aspect of Britta’s work I found very moving was something I wasn’t even sure I was supposed to pay attention to as the exhibition viewer: the insanely intricate collection of wires that hid behind these lights (see below). It looked super impressive and complicated, and it reminded me of one of the best things about art, which is there is always that piece that surprises you with its many deep layers when the entire time before you saw it as being straightforward with its message.

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Photo courtesy of Shirene Soleiman.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting my dose of Britta’s vision at CoCA Lab, and I look forward to seeing the installation at the park next year! If you want to see more of her work, you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Instagram, which I highly recommend! 

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