L.A.U.F.O – L.A.U.F.O

Picture Piece - 05 Mar 2018


The Triforium – Los Angeles’s weirdest and most reviled public artwork – awakes from a long slumber

By Evan Moffitt


L.A.U.F.O - L.A.U.F.O

The Triforium (restored), Los Angeles, 2017. Courtesy: The Triforium Project

It was the largest electronic musical instrument in the world – or it would have been, had it ever fully worked. These days, the Triforium is a silent colossus in the plaza behind Los Angeles City Hall. Its six-storey concrete columns, which meet in pairs like slender chevrons, once contained an electronic harmonium and a 79-note glass bell carillon, until someone cut it down and sold it for scrap. Operated from a console or a computer, the bells triggered lightbulbs in a colourful girdle of hand-blown Italian glass panels, cascading in rainbow ribbons like a nightclub chandelier. Three speakers hang below this transom like speckled eggs.

Artist Joseph Young designed the Triforium in 1971, the final year of the famed Art and Technology Program (A&T) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which paired artists like Robert Irwin and Claes Oldenburg with engineers in aerospace and technology firms. The programme produced ambitious projects but few enduring prototypes. After visiting A&T’s culminating exhibition at LACMA, Young set out to create the world’s first ‘polyphonoptic’ public sculpture, equipped with motion sensors that would transform the movements of pedestrians beneath its bays into shifting compositions of light and sound. Its original design called for laser beams shooting into space, making it the world’s first astronomical beacon, too – public art with cosmic ambitions. The carillon’s clang, accompanied by pulsing colours, may have inspired the key scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Young’s proposal landed on my father’s desk. He was then Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, responsible for cultural initiatives, and next in line to the charismatic Mayor, Tom Bradley. The Triforium, he complained, ‘was not only hideous, but expensive’; yet Bradley had pre-approved the plan, and nothing could stop its construction. When the sculpture was installed in 1975, its computer was wired incorrectly; it never functioned properly. Critics called it ‘Tri-foolery’, a ‘psychedelic nickelodeon’ and ‘the million-dollar firefly’.


L.A.U.F.O - L.A.U.F.O

Annotated photograph of the Triforium, Los Angeles, 1975, designed by Joseph Young. Courtesy: Estate of Joseph Young; photograph: Julius Shulman

I had heard this story many times when, three decades later, I found myself exploring the streets and squares of downtown LA. Of all the quirks I encountered, the Triforium was the strangest; a dusty UFO on an empty dais. I loved its pillars, conjoined like wishbones, and its garish speakers. An alien instrument from the future past, it sat as though waiting for  someone to play it. That someone, it seems, has arrived. In 2015, Claire L. Evans and Jona Bechtolt – also known as the electropop band YACHT – along with Tom Carroll, host of the YouTube series ‘Tom Explores Los Angeles’, founded the Triforium Project to restore the sculpture and realize Young’s original vision. With grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Goldhirsh Foundation, they aim to replace its incandescent bulbs with LEDs and rewire it with a modern, net-worked computer, so passersby can operate it via a mobile app. The Triforium, they assert, was 40 years ahead of its time. It may find its audience at last.

Evan Moffitt

Evan Moffitt is associate editor of frieze, based in New York, USA. 

Los Angeles
Evan Moffitt
Joseph Young
Picture Piece
Public Art

Issue 194

First published in Issue 194

April 2018

图片- 05马尔2018 L.A.U.F.O的Trimulas-L.A. Angeles的最古怪和最讨厌的公共艺术品-从长眠中醒来的Evon Mfimtt WebIGGY9699CMYK.JPGL.A.U.F.O - L.A.U.F.O三重(恢复),洛杉矶,2017礼貌:TrimFulm项目,它是世界上最大的电子乐器,或者它曾经是,如果它曾经充分工作。如今,三脚架是洛杉矶市政厅后面广场上的一座无声巨像。它的六层混凝土柱,像细长的雪佛龙一样成对相交,曾经包含了一个电子琴和一个79个音符的玻璃钟,直到有人把它砍掉,然后把它卖掉。从控制台或电脑操作,钟声触发灯泡在一个五颜六色的手镯意大利玻璃板,级联在彩虹缎带像夜总会吊灯。三个扬声器悬挂在横梁下面,像斑点的蛋。艺术家约瑟夫·杨设计了“三叉”,是洛杉矶郡立美术馆(LACMA)著名的艺术与技术项目(A&P)的最后一年,它与艺术家Robert Irwin和克雷斯奥尔登堡和航空航天和技术公司的工程师配对。该计划产生了雄心勃勃的项目,但没有持久的原型。在参观了LaMMA的一次顶尖的展览之后,扬开始创建世界上第一个“多声部”的公共雕塑,配备了运动传感器,它将把在它下面的行人的运动转换成光和声音的变换成分。它最初的设计要求激光射入太空,使它成为世界上第一个天文信标,也是具有宇宙野心的公共艺术。钟声的铿锵声伴随着搏动的色彩,可能激发了第三类(1977)亲密接触的关键场景。杨的建议落在我父亲的办公桌上。他当时是洛杉矶的副市长,负责文化活动,其次是有魅力的市长Tom Bradley。他抱怨说,三脚架不仅是丑陋的,而且是昂贵的,然而布拉德利已经预先批准了这个计划,没有任何东西能阻止它的建造。当雕塑在1975安装时,它的电脑接线不正确,它的功能从未正常。评论家称之为“三傻子”,“迷幻的尼克”和“百万美元的萤火虫”。WebthTrimeFiPrasa 1975YCMYK.JPG L.A.U.F.O - L.A.U.F.O注释的照片,洛杉矶,1975,约瑟夫·杨设计。礼貌:约瑟夫·杨的庄园;照片:尤利乌斯·舒尔曼,当我三年后,我发现自己在探索洛杉矶市中心的街道和广场时,我多次听到这个故事。在我遇到的所有怪癖中,三脚架是最奇怪的;在空荡荡的平台上有灰尘的不明飞行物。我喜欢它的柱子,像骷髅一样的连体,和它的花言巧语。一个来自未来的陌生乐器,它坐着,好像在等待某人演奏。似乎有人来了。在2015,Claire L. Evans和JONA Bektutt被称为“EPOP乐队游艇”和T·卡奴尔,YouTube系列“汤姆探索洛杉矶”的主人,创立了TrimFulii项目来恢复雕塑并实现Young的最初愿景。在国家历史保护和金德什基金会的资助下,他们的目标是用LED代替白炽灯泡,并用一台现代化的、净工作的电脑将其重新连接起来,因此行人可以通过移动应用程序操作它。他们宣称,三脚架比它的时代提前了40年。它可能最终找到它的观众。埃文莫菲特埃文莫菲特是FrIEZE的副编辑,总部设在美国纽约。洛杉矶1941年2018年4月194期出版的艺术问题


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