From the mind of a passionate French artist comes a minimalist sculpture that will foster viewers’ innate sense of wonder and self-discovery.
Marc Ippon de Ronda’s Fragments was showcased at Burning Man this past week, from August 25 to September 2. The art was a collaboration with ATO Designs - a creative studio he co-founded - and will introduce Ippon de Ronda’s vision to an international audience.
In his youth, Marc explored using light as a way to express himself by producing light mapping for electronic and techno concerts in Paris. He continued to foster his interest in using properties of light to alter perceptions of space and time, with inspiration from a variety of minimalist artists. He admires artists such as Richard Serra, James Turrell, and Olafur Eliasson. Marc enjoys Serra’s monumental large-scale and interactive pieces, Turrell’s use of light and space as creative mediums, and Eliasson’s approach of connecting art to science and technology. Marc also enjoys Leo Villareal, an American artist known for “The Bay Lights,” the light monument on the Bay Bridge. All of these influences helped inspire Fragments.
Fragments consisted of a large gold-covered staircase surrounded by mirrors that reflected sunlight during the day and LEDs that lit up the area at night. It was an interactive experience; visitors could climb the staircase, bask in the lighting of the sculpture, and have their reflections change in the mirrors. Depending on the time of day, the sun's reflection, and changing sights and sounds of the desert, viewers will have different experiences of the piece. The exhibit will encourage communal interaction through group meditation ceremonies at sunrise.
The themes of Marc’s work are dreams, myths, and legends. His fascination with dreams inspired him to create a legend that acts as his installation’s spiritual backstory:
“It is said that before the Age of Human Kind, a powerful giant was given a magic mirror by a goddess that allowed him to see into the future. Frightened by what he could foresee he broke the mirror into a thousand fragments, which fell from the sky and landed in the desert floor. The sand and winds blew and the pieces began to emerge as mankind too slowly emerged out of obscurity. When thereafter discovered, the mythical site was employed as a magical place for meditation and wisdom. And it is said that the first light of sunrise seen from the top of the highest fragment will bring infinite power and knowledge to those who visit the temple.”
Marc emphasizes that the idea of Fragments is for every viewer to have their own subjective spiritual journey and emotional response to his work. While the legend can help guide viewers if they so choose, it is not meant to direct viewers towards any particular experience or feeling about the piece. The artwork will give visionaries and dreamers an immersive experience and the time and space to reflect on themselves and the community around them. Although Marc has his own vision for his exhibit, he is excited to see the diversity of feelings and emotions it evokes in individuals. He hopes his art will serve as a place for meditation, self-discovery, and emotional transformation.
The journey of Fragments from dream to reality at Burning Man has been a multi-year effort made possible by the cooperation of artists, designers, engineers, architects, and volunteers. The project has come with monumental technical and financial challenges. The sculpture weighs 13 tons, approximately 7 meters high with a perimeter of 40 meters. Marc has launched a fundraising campaign to help cover the cost of materials, production, transportation, and travel expenses. Supplemental finances will further the creation of additional mirrors and more LED displays.
While spreading awareness of the project has been an uphill climb, Marc has been overwhelmed by the support he's received. Two couples made plans to get married atop the sculpture's staircase during Burning Man. Now that the burn is over, Marc hopes to find a public space to permanently showcase his creation. Marc dreams that his work can find a home in a Bay Area or California institute as he admires and feels welcome amongst California’s artistic community.
The Fragments & ATO Designs Studio Team:
Marc Ippon de Ronda: Artist and Fragments Creator
Caroline Lefrere: ATO Studio Co-founder and General Manager
Alix de La Chapelle: Communications, Fundraising and Performance
Melissa Justine Gourley: Architect for ATO
William Thurman: Graphic Designer, Musician, and Artist