The TED Conference has a long history of artworks and performances accompanying its talks and the conference taking place this week in Vancouver is no different. It's featuring a huge net sculpture floating above the city that's hung from a skyscraper and incorporates an interactive light-show at night.

Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks is the name given to the sculpture by its artist creator Janet Echelman, who has previously displayed similar works in Amsterdam, Sydney and New York, amongst other places, and is speaking at the TED Conference. The installation is her largest to date, spanning 745 x 475 x 175 ft (227 x 145 x 53 m) between a 24-story skyscraper and the Vancouver Convention Center.

Echelman worked with Autodesk, Inc. to create custom 3D software for modelling the sculpture and testing its feasibility. The software provided a way to explore the density, shape, and scale of the installation in detail and manipulate the design to see what the results would be.

The artwork is made out of Honeywell Spectra fiber, a lightweight, durable material that, Echelman says, is 15 times stronger than steel by weight and is designed to float and billow with the wind. At night, an interactive light-show, designed in collaboration with Aaron Koblin, Creative Director at Google’s Creative Lab, is projected onto the net. Visitors are able to choreograph the lighting with physical gestures in real time using their mobile devices.

This installation is being co-presented by Burrard Arts Foundation and the City of Vancouver. Arup partnered on the structural engineering and Glotman Simpson on the building engineering. It is being exhibited in Vancouver until March 22.

The video below provides an introduction to the project.

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