The Fussy Eye: Floral Respiration

The art of engorgement.

Can you spare 20 minutes? Though the sound must be driving the architects next to the open atrium crazy, that's the time span it takes for the big red installation Bloom to expand and collapse. It's powered by a leaf blower mounted on the ceiling, which gradually, noisily inflates the hanging red lobes. Maine-based artist Anna Hepler stitched the thing together out of cheap, ordinary shopping-bag-grade plastic, which gently crackles and crinkles during deflation. (Repairs have been made with Scotch tape; when the installation's over, it could be recycled at the Safeway.) Hanging inert, Bloom resembles a collapsed set of lungs. Engorged with air, it's more like a giant sea anemone or flower (a form echoed in Hepler's companion wall painting, a kind of crimson mandala). Created for the space, which it nearly fills at maximum reach, Bloom's pendulous bladders suggest an organic life cycle that's repeated 23 times daily—not in response to the sun or tides, but driven by motor and switch. 

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