The space-age Triforium sculpture in Downtown Los Angeles was mocked at its 1970s unveiling. But on three recent Friday nights, it has drawn crowds that filled Fletcher Bowron Square.
The often-dark art piece was lit up in a rainbow of colors in synchronicity with live and recorded music—much like its creator, Joseph Young, envisioned.
But when it debuted in 1975, it was instantly unpopular. Its ballooning budget, which began at $250,000 and swelled to nearly $1 million, made it a target, and once it was complete, the public’s attitude toward the project only got worse.
Critics mocked it as “three wishbones in search of a turkey” (because of its three-pronged structure) and “Trifoolery.” It was largely left to decline over the years.
Over the last few years, however, the Triforium has returned to the spotlight in a positive way. Public campaigns have sought to restore it and realize Young’s vision for the unique piece.
A new event series called Triforium Fridays, which concluded this week, featured original light and sound programs, “rescued from dusty, eight-bit paper tapes and transcoded into modern software... reacting in real-time to live musical performances.”
Thanks to modern technology, the rainbow colored glass prisms that circle the structure can be outfitted with tiny LED lights, controlled remotely by a “polyphonoptic” technician who manipulates the light in time and intensity with the music and other entertainment featured at each event.
The result was a dynamic light and sound experience, with artists from drummers to champion whistlers to opera singers using the sculpture as a mini stage. If you missed out on the opportunity to see the light-and-sound sculpture in-person, scroll down for Instagram videos, though they barely do the experience justice:
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This is the Triforium, a monumental piece of 70s “polyphonoptic” public art in downtown Los Angeles that has been in darkness for years. A few years back I co-founded @triforiumproject and have been working to bring this artwork back to life for the 21st century; after much sweat & tears and countless email threads, we finally re-activated yesterday’s vision of the future. Learn more at @triforiumproject & if you’re in Los Angeles, come see it in person this Friday and next Friday, for #triforiumfridays!
- The Triforium Project [Official site]
- Downtown LA’s ‘Polyphonoptic’ Triforium Sculpture Could Finally Fulfill Its Fantastic Original Vision [Curbed LA]
- The Triforium sculpture’s proposed restoration [Curbed LA]