The Little Shining Man is one of the most magical-looking things I’ve seen all year, and it’s an appropriately uplifting note on which to end 2011 and begin 2012. It’s literally uplifting, actually: it’s a kite. Crazy, right? It looks like a heavy, ginormous block, and with over 23,000 individual components you’d never think it could fly, but it’s made of carbon fiber rods and nylon connectors that secure “a hand-made composite fabric normally used for yacht sails.”
The kite was made by artists Heather and Ivan Morison, who are best known for their pavilions and outdoor installations. They’ve worked all over the world on commissioned, site-specific and sculptural projects. For Little Shining Man, they collaborated with an architect and fabrication design studio to create the delicate, three-part structure based on the tetra kites of Alexander Graham Bell.
“There were several challenges in realizing Little Shining Man,” said Heather and Ivan. “The structure had to be as strong and light as possible in order to fly, but had to return to earth with minimal damage so it could be installed as a piece of sculpture. Carbon fiber rod and Cuben fiber – a hand-made composite fabric used primarily in Racing Yacht Sails, achieved the perfect combination of strength and weight. The visual impact of the fabric produces an etherial sense of depth and refraction that gives the heavy mass the lightest touch.”
The kite was built in three parts that come together to create the final piece, hung as a sculpture in a new development in St. Helier, Jersey. Once a year it will be taken down and flown in St. Aubin’s Bay.