By Spencer Buell
Consider this one (more) reason to head down to the South Coast this summer: For the rest of the season, a windblown “Skynet” made of 40,000 plastic streamers will sway and undulate in the breeze over New Bedford’s Custom House Square.
The 6,500 square foot aerial artwork, called “Silver Current,” is the latest of its kind from artist Patrick Shearn, of the Los Angeles collective Poetic Kinetics, and will be on display from now through September. It’s the centerpiece of a summertime arts program from the Massachusetts Design Art and Technology Institute, a nonprofit group that is hosting its first series of regionally inspired art projects scattered around New Bedford’s downtown, called “Summer Winds.”
“DATMA is a unique approach to art exhibition, forgoing a traditional museum visit by engaging community partners to provide an unprecedented experience to showcase original and contemporary art innovation to its visitors,” says Lindsay Mis, DATMA’s executive director, in a statement. “Our inaugural season is inspired by New Bedford’s rich ongoing and historical connection to the ocean and seafaring.”
Other exhibitions at the season-long event include a celebration of Dutch maritime painting at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and a collection of “wind activated whimsical mobiles” at the Buttonwood Park Zoo.
Visitors who check out “Silver Current” will find a massive cloud of silver strips, which according to a release stands between 21 and 55 feet tall and, in the wind, makes a sound that “evokes the feeling of being in a dense forest and being in one with nature.” But Roger Mandle, who is chair of DATMA’s board and the organization’s co-founder, says the theme for “Summer Winds” is about more than just chill, breezy vibes.
“Today’s winds no longer push sails of whaling ships,” Mandle says, “but they will now drive wind turbines set sail for a new course creating a wind energy industry that will invigorate the New Bedford area and produce masses of inexpensive, and environmentally pure, renewable energy for the region and beyond.”