Boston artist Pamela Hersch creates a digital dreamscape at the new Bulfinch Crossing.
Digital artist Pamela Hersch
During the darkest days of the pandemic, artist Pamela Hersch (pamelahersch.com) was struck by images of wild animals roaming cities worldwide—spaces these creatures hadn’t visited for decades. It was as if intrepid fauna were reclaiming lost territory. “I wanted to investigate the idea that we humans, as a group, suddenly abandoned the spaces to which we have generally felt so entitled, and that this absence made room for other living beings to occupy them,” says Hersch, who was born in Mexico City and is a Berklee College of Music grad.
Hersch gathered these disparate visions to create “Float,” a kaleidoscopic digital light installation of undulating animals and accompanying music at the mixed-use Bulfinch Crossing on One Congress St. Visitors can use an on-site QR code to hear musical accompaniment by Berklee College alum Ella Joy Meir. The show, which will be on display through spring, brings life and light to a previously dark underpass. “The shadows provided by the underpass were the perfect canvas for presenting colorful and slow-moving artwork that would transform the space,” says Hersch, who praises the vision of National Real Estate Advisors (natadvisors.com) and the HYM Investment Group (hyminvestments.com) for their vision to change the landscape of the area. “The high, elongated beams provided the perfect backdrop for feathers, which have always fascinated me. And the format gave me a chance to present them on a more profound scale than we tend to see in real life.”
Approaching a project of such massive scale required lengthy planning, and Hersch first walked around the space before taking photos and creating a template. “I designed the technical system for the projection itself, [which includes] projectors, lenses, playback devices, wiring and schematics,” she says. “Large-scale presentations of this type can be highly complex, and projecting from a high-occupancy area like Bulfinch Crossing provided a specific set of problems to solve.” One challenge is installation of 22 projectors—in eight different rooms in two buildings—on both sides of the street. Syncing the projections is critical to providing a coherent digital experience.
The artist also collected a series of animal images—the tail of a blue whale, the wings of a firefly and the hexagonal scute segments of a turtle’s shell—and devised a display that echoes the shapes and textures of features. The installation, during a time of year when daylight is fleeting, has been an instant hit. Berklee is even producing a piece about the collaboration between two of its alumni. “People are enthusiastic about the transformation and illumination of a dark, bare space,” says Hersch. The work has quickly become our collective visual lifeboat, carrying us into the light and hope of spring.
Photography by: Aram Boghosian