First there was the invisibility cloak created by scientists from the University of Rochester and now, this levitation of a section of Covent Garden's historic Market Building in London! And though it may appear to be the work of wizard extraordinaire Hermione Granger, this is no magic spell - just a clever illusion, created by 30-year-old British artist and designer, Alex Chinneck.
Called "Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder", the 12-meter-wide by 10-meter-high facade is a 1:1 replica of the Market Building that lies alongside, except for one thing - it has a large gash along the middle, giving the impression that the top part of the building is defying gravity and floating on its own accord.
In case you are wondering, the illusion is not being created by hidden cables, but by two green carts that are cleverly situated on both sides of the facade. In addition to acting as counterweights, the 4-ton nondescript supports also contain a steel beam, which is attached to a 14-ton steel platform and a 12-meter cantilever that allows the top section of the building to appear as though it is "floating"!
Also, while the structure looks exactly like the 187-year-old weathered stone building it resembles, it is made entirely from ultra-light CNC-milled polystyrene blocks. Fifty artists worked to make it look as authentic as possible, by first covering it with plastic and then adding granite, sand and even moss, where necessary.
As you can imagine, building this masterpiece was no easy task. Chinneck said it took his team of over 100 people, which included structural engineers, architectural consultants, planning consultants, steelworkers, carpenters, carvers, 3D modelers and artists, over eight months to get it just right. What's even more amazing is the project was built off-site in modules, and then transported to Covent Garden, where it was assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. This process alone, took four days.
"Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder", that was opened to the public on October 2nd, has been a huge success. Thousands of people, both locals and visitors come daily to this already popular shopping area, to admire the artist's handiwork. However like all magical things, this extraordinary artwork too will disappear, on October 24th, 2014.
While this is Chinneck's biggest art undertaking thus far, it is certainly not his only unique one that is currently on display. On September 26th, the artist unveiled "A pound of flesh for 50p", in London's Bankside district. Created to commemorate an old candle-making factory that once stood there, the two-story life-sized building has been constructed from 8,000 paraffin wax bricks that will gradually melt, leaving behind nothing more than a giant puddle of wax, by the time installation ends on October 26th, 2014.
Resources: mergefestival.co.uk, gizamg.com, mirror.uk.com,dailymail.co.uk