Emerald Laser Lawn by Dan Corson in the Broward County Public Art & Design Collection

Tin Ly

Abstract

To validate the digital and electronic technology of the 21st Century, the Broward County Public Art & Design (PAD) Program commissioned an ambitious light-based artwork to add to its public art collection. Can such a project be considered “permanent” artwork with a minimum of 15 years lifespan of daily eight hours operation? How well can a laser artwork be preserved and maintained by a public art program? What are the unique challenges and rewards? “Broward Light Project: Emerald Laser Lawn” by Dan Corson, a recipient of the 2008 Public Art Year in Review, was installed in early 2007 in an open plaza of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Combining laser technology and computer software programming, this interactive artwork consists of three lasers projected at low vantage point across the lawn of a 1.8 acre plaza. It has fascinated the public by its constant mutation of nine different light sequences and patterns. However, within one year of its operation, the light installation encountered a major set-back when one laser malfunctioned. A lengthy process of restoration ensued. I will discuss the roles that the artist and conservator play in the long term preservation of the artwork through collaboration with a fabricator, a computer software designer and a local service provider in this complicated restoration process.

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