04/09/2012 12:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder' At MOCA Lights Up The Night Sky (VIDEO)

The launch of Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang's first West Coast exhibition went off with a bang Saturday night as 40,000 rockets exploded in the sky above the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

In this video uploaded by Sarah St. Clair Renard, a gathered crowd counts down to the rocket launch and then cheers at the massive display of smoke and fire. In addition to the rockets, about 100 hovering fireworks (pyrotechnic UFOs) and even more mini rockets capped the explosion. In all, the intricate art installation deploying tens of thousands of pyrotechnics lasted only a few seconds -- and what a thrilling few seconds it was.


Skyladder by Cai Guo-qiang from Sarah St Clair Renard on Vimeo.

The explosive art performance, entitled "Mystery Circle," is just one of several pieces on display at MOCA for the "Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder" exhibit. There are also three gunpowder drawings, three films of Cai's past projects and an installation called "Crop Circle" that is suspended from the ceiling at the center of the gallery. And, if you missed Saturday's ephemeral piece, you'll also be able to catch it on video.

In this video uploaded by, Cai explains that while his fiery art lasts for just a few seconds, the gunpowder he uses to set the explosions spans the ages.

WATCH: Films | Cai Guo-Qiang | Sky Ladder from on Vimeo.

"Of course, at the moment of ignition, the explosion is instantaneous," says Cai, "but gunpowder has its origins in minerals that took hundreds, thousands or millions of years to form."

The artist also compares his art to a "time-space tunnel" that brings him closer to nature, his ancestors and the galaxy.

Or, to put it more simply: "at this moment of destruction, you create something miraculously beautiful."

"Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder" will be on display at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary from April 8 - July 30th, 2012. Browse photos of Cai's past works in the slideshow below.

Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder