Trillium Icosaflorum was a solar powered light sculpture installed at Ontario Place in Toronto for the In/Future art festival in September 2016.
Ontario Place was originally conceived in the wake of Montreal’s Expo '67 to be a showcase of all that Ontario had to offer. Inspired by its Montreal counterpart, Ontario Place was designed to have a domed structure as its centerpiece and most iconic element: the Cinesphere. Common knowledge would tell you that the Cinesphere is a geodesic dome, a sort of structure popularized by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s and emblematic of mid-century techno-utopianism. In actuality, though it is a triodetic dome, a related but different structure.
It’s uncertain whether the decision not to use an actual geodesic dome was made due to pragmatic or construction related considerations, but it does have a few implications. The Cinesphere as built lacks the 'mathematical purity’ of a true geodesic dome. If you look at it from the top, you can see how the elegant structure seen on the sides breaks down. From the most common viewing angles though (on or near the ground), it’s arguably a much more aesthetically pleasing structure than a true geodesic dome. It appears to consist entirely of triangles forming hexagons, whereas geodesic domes appear to contain a mix of pentagons and hexagons. This also allows the horizontal struts to all be parallel to one another, where the struts of a geodesic dome appear to meander in unexpected directions.
This compromise between mathematical purity and techno-utopian idealism for aesthetics and pragmatism served as the starting inspiration for the piece.
Trillium Icosaflorum deconstructs the form of the Cinesphere while also serving as a beacon to passers-by. The sculpture consists of two main parts, the Shell and the Seed. The shell takes the structure of the Cinesphere and deconstructs it. It unwraps the form of the Cinesphere, cutting along the diagonals. This created a trillium inspired shape that surrounds the seed.
The Seed took the form of an icosahedron made of two-way mirrored acrylic lit with a solar-powered light from within. The icosahedron is the platonic solid from which the geodesic dome is derived. The Seed represents both the ideals that Ontario Place and the Cinesphere were inspired by, as well as the future potential of the space emerging from the shell of the past. In the daytime it reflected its surroundings, catching the sun and the eyes of passers-by. At night it was illuminated from within, creating an infinite mirror box effect, and serving as a beacon to viewers.