Scottsdale Public Art

Temporary Art

Beautiful Light

D. A. Therrien launched the debut of his prototype 4 LETTER WORD MACHINE and the first BEAUTIFUL LIGHT performance early in January 2009. Commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art, this two-night only installation and performance was suspended more than 100 feet over the Arizona Canal in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona. The spectacle featured an 80-foot-wide array of quartz lamps, called the 4 LETTER WORD MACHINE, designed by the artist as a visual communications and translation system using code and graphic patterns.  During several shows throughout both evenings, performers ascended to platforms over the canal and controlled the four 16-foot-square alphanumeric displays via archaic electro-mechanical switches. Brilliant bolts of white light scrolled through a spectacular display of mysterious transmissions, beginning with the broken word FEAR, which were accompanied by ethereal sounds reminiscent of electromechanical devices and the hum of technology. Ten performances over the two night period began with chaotic patterns in light, gradually revealing partial words and DNA code from the gene FOX2P which develops the ability to communicate. Patterns and partial words through challenged viewers to resist the compulsion to read and comprehend the messages. The performance culminated in visual clarity, featuring elemental words such as - TEXT, LIFE, LOVE, FATE, MORE, LESS, HOPE.


Scottsdale Public Art, Toronto Special Events, and the Provincial Ministry of Tourism’s Celebrate Ontario fund co-commissioned the second iteration of Therrien’s 4 LETTER WORD MACHINE for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2009—the fourth annual sunrise to sunset Nuit Blanche festival in Toronto. The keystone artwork of Nuit Blanche was BEAUTIFUL LIGHT Toronto. The 4 LETTER WORD MACHINE was suspended 214 feet in the air at Toronto’s City Hall for an all-night performance that was visible from several miles away.  


Artist D.A. Therrien has been creating dramatic, high-voltage art spectacle performances in Europe, Asia and North America since 1983. His work utilizes machines, computers, information displays, high intensity light, robotics and live electricity in complex interactions with human performers/operators. These performances address humanity’s relationship to political and religious systems, medical technology, surveillance, information systems and other 20th and 21st century technologies that are now pervasive in everyday life.

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