Buoyant Oracle Invites Community to Interact With Reston Sculpture

A new addition is on its way to help visitors engage with the Buoyant Force sculpture in Reston Town Square Park.

This week, an interactive feature named the Buoyant Oracle is expected to be installed and available for visitors at artist Sue Wrbican‘s 50-foot steel sculpture. Buoyant Force was placed in the park on Jan. 31.

The Buoyant Oracle is designed to simulate “what an interaction with an inanimate object may feel like and provides a sense of fun by provoking our imagination,” according to Jaynelle Hazard, the executive director and curator for the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).

By scanning a QR code marked by a blue sign with a speech bubble next to the sculpture, visitors will be able to interact with an evolving cast of guest oracles and narratives over the next five years. Through the Buoyant Oracle, visitors will be able to learn about the history, fabrication process and Wrbican’s philosophy behind the sculpture.

Visitors will also be able to view never before seen photos from throughout the fabrication process, gleam a behind-the-scenes view as if they were looking inside the sculpture, learn about the paint color choices and view details about the sculpture.

An aside to the goal of the project is to provide a light-hearted opportunity for engagement during this time while allowing for social distancing.

“It means a great deal to GRACE to be able to offer this experience to the community,” Hazard said. “In a moment where in-person art viewing may not feel comfortable to many but is missed by all, activating our monumental 50-foot steel outdoor sculpture, Buoyant Force, in a new and innovative way can fill that void and more to visitors.”

In tune with the surrealist tradition and the paintings of Kay Sage that inspired Wrbican’s design of the sculpture, the experience will offer different readings of paired poetry and remixed images of the artwork.

From the inception of the project – which is GRACE’s largest installation to date – the intention was to build out community programming related to the installation, according to Robert Goudie, board chair of GRACE.

“Serendipitously, Ben Stokes, husband to our then-executive director and curator, Lily Siegel, saw this as an opportunity to explore interests he has as an assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University and director of its Playful City Lab, which investigates the power of playful tactics to advance equity, strengthen the sense of place, and build strong communities,” Goudie wrote in a statement.

“Through the incredible pro bono contributions of Ben and Playful City Lab, the QR code project is what beautifully resulted.”

Photos courtesy Sue Wrbican

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