New art project unveiled to educate public about solar energy


This week Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Light and Pacific Science Center unveiled this a new interactive art project designed to demonstrate the science of solar energy in an accessible way. Five sculpted flowers standing up to three stories tall now greet visitors to Pacific Science Center and Seattle Center with a creative lesson in renewable energy thanks to a partnership between the Science Center and Seattle City Light.

“Sonic Bloom” is a solar-powered work of art created by Dan Corson on behalf of City Light’s Green Up program, which supports the development of new renewable energy sources.

“Solar energy is part of the future of sustainable energy here in Seattle,” said Mayor McGinn. “This is a creative way to engage people in a conversation about renewable energy and climate change.”

Each of the flowers glows when the sun shines through the petals during the day and light up at night. They also individually “sing” harmonic tones whenever someone walks by. Solar panels atop each flower and the Science Center roof generate enough electricity to run the interactive audio experience and the dynamic evening lighting.

“It was exciting to be able to sculpturally showcase solar generation in a more unique and playful way that goes beyond standard rooftop installations. While we can’t actually see electricity, we can see the effects of it through these dynamic flowers both day and night,” artist Dan Corson said. “Working with Pacific Science Center and Seattle City Light allowed me to continue my exploration of green design and new technologies and how these tools can frame and amplify the natural world and our shifting relationship to it.”

“Sonic Bloom’s impressive combination of art, science and energy that has the power to inspire hundreds of thousands of people,” City Councilmember Nick Licata said. “Equally impressive is the partnership between Seattle City Light and Pacific Science Center that allowed Dan Corson to share his artistic vision with our community.”

Interpretive signage at the exhibition and inside Pacific Science Center explains how solar energy works and how it is powering the flowers.

”Few issues are of greater importance to our generation and the generations to come than energy. As part of the Science Center’s commitment to building a more scientifically literate society, we are proud to share Sonic Bloom with our community and visitors,” said Bryce Seidl, Pacific Science Center’s president and CEO. “Sonic Bloom will not only help increase awareness of the importance and opportunities of renewable energy; it will also be a beautiful and captivating gathering place, where art and science can be appreciated and explored at any time, any day.”

The project is being supported by a grant from City Light’s Green Up program and in-kind donations. The Green Up program is designed to dedicate a portion of the money collected from voluntary participants to promote awareness of renewable energy.

Photos by Dan Corson