Crimson Collective’s giant crane sculpture at Coachella carries message of peace

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Photo courtesy of Michelle Cassel/Crimson Collective

Inspired by the Japanese legend of a Thousand Cranes—a thousand cranes will grant one wish—also known as Zenbazuru, the Crimson Collective designed “Ascension”—the giant art installation at the 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. However, rather than a thousand cranes, the project consists of one very large origami crane that provides shade, magnificent light, meaningful symbolism, and a special message to everyone present at the 3-day annual music festival. The art piece will also be on display for Stagecoach, the country music festival, happening this weekend.

The 150 foot wide, 45 foot giant white origami crane known as Ascension was crafted from soaring planes of white fabric and a modular aluminum and tension wire skeleton. Surrounding the energy independent crane stand two raised solar collection stations that utilize the power of the sun throughout the day to power the crane’s beautiful lighting system at night.

This special piece of art serves as a beacon, shelter, and meeting destination for visitors. Metaphorically, Ascension carries a universal message of peace for and from the over 100,000 attendees at Coachella and Stagecoach. Symbolically, attendees become part of the living art installation. Thousands of visitors pass below the crane’s giant wings, like the Zenbazuru string of origami cranes connecting each visitor to the next.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cassel/Crimson Collective

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cassel/Crimson Collective

“The crane has long been embraced as the symbol of peace and prosperity,” explains Crimson Collective Founder and Lead Designer, Behn Samareh. “Inspired by the ancient art of origami, Ascension depicts a crane at its first moments of flight. It is intended as an inspiration of thought and action. And it stands as a symbol of hope and a prelude to ascension through awareness and understanding.”

The Crimson Collective is a Los Angeles based group of artists, architects and designers. They aim to bridge the gap between art and architecture while inspiring positive social change and action through physical interaction with their projects. They function to help fund and support the Crimson Society, a non-profit that seeks to find long-term solutions for homelessness.

Behn Samareh, the lead designer as well as the all-around mastermind behind Ascension, founded the Crimson Society in 1995 and the Crimson Collective in 2010. His goal is to apply his designs to affect greater social change. Samareh is also responsible for recruiting the Crimson 8, the Collective’s first team of creative minds.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cassel/Crimson Collective

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cassel/Crimson Collective

Ascension was brought to life by the Crimson 8, each individual playing a major role in the process. Artist Ando Pndlian, “the man behind the skin,” designed the textilene sunshade canvas that makes up the crane’s translucent skin. Nick Vida, “the man with all the power,” was in charge of installing the solar array that powers up Ascension’s special night lighting. Charles Lee, the Junior Designer on the team, handled web design, marketing and 3-d rendering. Luis Macias, another Junior Designer, was responsible for designing the structure of the installation. Tom Kopp developed the practical approach to assembling the structure and frame of Ascension safely. Derrick Williams was in charge of all general production, while Greg Perham was responsible for all lighting.

Ascension is the Crimson Collective’s inaugural project and first major commission. The crane will remain at the Fairgrounds through the Stagecoach Festival this weekend.

Furthermore, the 100 plus components and over 7,000 square feet of the giant crane can be dismantled and shipped in one 40-foot container to a new site anywhere around the globe.

“Our goal with Ascension is to inspire and evoke action,” Samareh explains. “From Coachella, our hope is that the Crane will literally take flight and travel the globe, continuing to spread its message far beyond LA.”

*Photo courtesy of Michelle Cassel/Crimson Collective

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