Monday, December 21, 2015

Joseph Young & His Work: Triforium and Topographic Map of Water Sources

The Triforium's 40th birthday was December 11. Belated best wishes.

Originally installed in 1975, the work is by the late Joseph Young--I've blogged about his mosaic work before, but the Triforium is unique. Not a mosaic but a six story-high sculpture sitting at Temple and Main, fitted out with a carillon of glass bells. Nearly 1500 glass prisms--actually, hand-blown bits of glass from Murano, Venice--give a nod to mosaics (at least in my mind). In 2006 the Trirforium was cleaned up and the burned-out light bulbs replaced--but no effort to update it was made.

Now, both LACurbed and the LADowntownnews blog (also the source of this photo) report on fundraising efforts to refurbish the Triforium so that it functions even beyond the hopes of its creator.

A website called TheTriforiumProject that explains the push to update a piece of art that was, enthusiasts say, far ahead of its time.

Improvements would include replacing the light bulbs (largely burned out again) with long-lasting LEDs and creating a new computer to synchronize the music and lights. Not hard to imagine that the original 1975 software failed to do that consistently. But what sort of computer did you work on in 1975? (ummm, none. I'm not even sure that whatever was installed in the Triforium in 1975 can be called a computer.)

You can see many pictures and links to press coverage of the December 11th birthday party on the Joseph Young Fan page on Facebook.

The picture at left, clearly not the Triforium, is nearby at the County Hall of Records on Temple Street. It's also public art by Joseph Young; it it is a mosaic, and I'll switch gears and talk about it soon--promise.

The best pictures I've found of the Triforium are with an article from the California Historical Society--it even has an early rendering showing lasers shooting out of the tops of the pillars! That proposed feature was cut early on--not just because of soaring costs, but I suspect also due to technology constraints.

That well-researched article by Jessica Hough includes a biography of Joseph Young, color photos of the Triforium under construction, and Young's own words about the project.

Young envisioned his "kinetic color-music sculpture" as interacting with the people that passed by. Today, plans might include an app. Seriously. proposes an app that would allow "people to send "polyphonoptic" compositions for the Triforium to play." That sounds perfectly reasonable to me, but five years ago I would have laughed at the idea.

AND . . . because it is, after all, Mosaic Monday, I couldn't help but notice that Ms. Hough's article for the California Historical Society also includes this beautiful photo of one of Joseph Young's other works, the one I referenced a few paragraphs ago: the 1962 mosaic fountain titled "Topographic Map of Water Sources in County of Los Angeles" which is located at the Hall of Records on Temple Street. Beautiful, yes, because it shows that this work of art also needs some TLC.

According to Jessica Hough (who also took or owns this picture), "Young worked with architect Richard Neutra on the design that includes a topographic map of the city."

This photo and the pictures below, showing the mosaic in better and non-drought years, come from the LA County Arts Page. There I learned that:

Artist Joseph Young worked closely with the building’s architects, including Richard Neutra, to achieve a design for the wall. Young first designed the mural to portray only geological features and later added water sources to tie the mural together with the reflecting pool Neutra placed at the wall’s base. The mosaic’s map imagery was inspired by the records and maps kept within the Hall of Records.

The mosaic was cleaned and refurbished in 2007-8 by Donna Williams, and that when she was done, "for the first time in 20 years, water flowed through the mural."\

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