05/30/2014 08:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

There's A Human-Sized Birdcage In Los Angeles

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you may have noticed, placed surreptitiously between two boutiquey enterprises on Silver Lake Boulevard, a colossal white cage with a twisting skeleton and seemingly organic outgrowth. It takes a moment to process this alien invasion of the everyday space, and much longer to decide what purpose, exactly, the unorthodox form serves.

Well, just to clear things up, two weeks ago it was an observatory, last week it became an architectural musical instrument, and this weekend it will serve as an immersive human-scale birdcage. Yes, you're looking at the three-dimensional stage of "Vive La Cage," a three-part performance series that combines elements of dance, architecture, music, astronomy, and, well, human birdwatching.


Photo by Jess Castillo, Materials & Applications
Vive La Cage performance, C D A G N C E, featuring Erin Schneider, Jos McCain and Elizabeth Sonenberg

This weekend, Mishal Hashmi, Janie Sanchez and Filipa Valente collaborate on "Birdcage Express," a piece that magnifies the daily happenings of a birdcage to a human scale. An immersive 3D projection environment invites viewers to engage with birds on a surreal scale.

"The project was inspired by the form work and scale of La Cage," the artists explained to The Huffington Post. "We saw this giant Tweety-bird-esque cage and were drawn to the idea of creating a playful, immersive environment that allowed shrunken humans to navigate through a cage full of enormous birds and perch amongst them."

"La Cage is made up of a series of curved, welded pipes that create a multi-layered jungle gym, and this served as our starting point in thinking about visual movement versus physical limitations through the space," the artists explained of the structure, designed by Warren Techentin Architecture [WTARCH]. "Our project aims to create an illusion of unbounded visuals within an environment that is very physically constraining. While the structure is navigable, there are parts of it that seem impenetrable and can only be reached through ingenuity, bravery, and sucking in ones' gut."


Image courtesy Warren Techentin Architecture

To make the piece, the artists began by "surveying the structure" and creating digital mockups to plot the installation. Then the building of audio and video began, made more complicated by the scale and compartmentalized nature of the piece.

When the performance takes place this Saturday, many of the audience members will likely have been Silver Lake citizens passing by on their way to a coffee shop or 7-11. But that's exactly what makes this kind of pop-up performance so intriguing. "One of the most interesting things about the M&A [Materials & Applications] venue is its location," the artists explained, "and the way it seduces unsuspecting passersby into its courtyard."

The unusual site will transform unsuspecting Angelenos into spontaneous art spectators and, in this case, amateur birdwatchers. "We hope our piece entices the audience to further interact within the cage and enjoy a sample sized version of nature in the city. The goal is to create a moment where the participant is transported to a space that is visceral and evocative, but ultimately, we hope to add a sense of fun and community to the scene and create an experience that gets the participant thinking about space and scale." If you've ever dreamed of gazing at a supersize birdcage in the city of angels, you probably won't get another chance.

Vive La Cage's "Birdcage Express," featuring dancers featuring Erin Schneider, Jos McCain and Elizabeth Sonenberg, will take place Saturday, May 31 at 8:30pm at 1619 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA.

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Correction: Viewers are encouraged not to climb in the cage due to safety concerns.



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