Petalclouds, 2018

Changi Airport, Singapore

Petalclouds is the central artwork at Terminal 4 at Changi Airport in Singapore. The hexamerous kinetic installation was commissioned and produced within Terminal 4‘s elaborate art program. It spans across 200 metres under the roof of the Central Galleria.

Together, 16 aluminum elements form one of six kinetic sculptures, whose appearances constantly and fluidly change – similar to clouds. One algorithmic choreography defines the sculptures‘ movements. Form, movement, light and music create a synaesthetic experience and generate new formations.

The choreography develops around three basic forms: circular shapes which evolve complex variations over time; waves which can move across the whole installation, for example, thus creating a strong spatial experience of the artwork; and morph – individual clouds gradually morph into smaller fractions, reveal their own character before being consolidated to the bigger structure and divided again. The artwork’s harmonic choreography creates a calm atmosphere levelling the high activity in the other parts of the terminal.

Petalclouds is visible and audible from almost every position. The music, which was composed by Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, plays through speakers at various places inside the terminal. Additionally, travellers in transit can listen to the music on their own cell phones, with the use of an app.

Light bands that are built into the aluminium elements illuminate the sculptures. The light animation emphasises the movement of individual elements, as well as the sculptures or the installation as a whole. In the latter case, the light might travel from one element to the next as well as through the entire installation successively.

Each rounded, triangular element is attached to two motors by four thin steel cables, performing vertical and horizontal movements. A specially developed software framework was used to simulate the controlling of the 192 motors and the light in order to design the complex choreography.

Petalclouds was commissioned by Changi Airport Group Singapore. Apart from Ólafur Arnalds, MKT AG Olching and the Takenaka Corporation collaborated with us on the development and production of the artwork. Petalclouds is our second large-scale kinetic installation at Changi Airport. Since 2012, Kinetic Rain adds a contemplative element to the lively transit space of the Departure Hall of Terminal 1.

For impressions of the installation at Changi Airport see this video  © Changi Airport Group Singapore.