We piled into the van and drove through the rolling hills of Paso Robles, California. The smell of the ocean was heavy in the air, but as we turned away from the coast, the fog cleared and the golden rolling hills took over the landscape.
We passed a handful of hidden-gem wineries and an ancient airplane museum before rattling our way down a dirt road that led us deeper into no-man’s land. Soon enough we came upon the sign we’d been searching for: Sensorio, a Field of Light.
We hurried through the gates as the sun set behind the hills, just in time for the dusk to swallow us. None of us were sure what to expect, but we bounced on our toes as we peeked over the hill into the valley beyond.
We were greeted with an unbelievable sight. The valley stretched out below us, as far as we could see, and every inch of it was blooming with light. We gave a collective gasp, then moved forward onto the dark path that wound its way through the illuminated flowers.
We strolled down the hill and straight into the center of the field of light, marveling at the scope of the installation. Tens of thousands of individual globes were hovering above the landscape, waving gently in the breeze as they slowly shifted through a rainbow of colors. The air was quiet apart from gasps of delight from the viewers, and the moon slowly rose behind a grand old oak tree on the hill, completing the magical illumination of this fairy landscape.
This gorgeous installation was created by Bruce Munro. The Field of Light has over 58,000 individual globes, lit by fiber optics and entirely powered by solar electricity. The design is flawless. Each flower was very simple in design. A fiber optic cable terminates in a baseball-sized glass or acrylic sphere, creating a lovely diffused glow. The flowers are lifted off the ground with a short length of clear tubing, allowing each individual flower to sway gently in the breeze.
The fiber optics lead back to a solar powered light controller. Each controller powers around 150 flowers, creating a patchwork effect of different colors across the field. The slight variation in cable lengths creates a delightful subtle variation in color within each patch, and the LED color shift was slow enough that many viewers were not consciously aware it was happening.
Out of 58,000 flowers, I only spotted one that was not working. Impressive.
The trail is a half mile loop that meanders through the field, with plenty of benches where viewers can relax and take in the magical sight. The simplicity and scale of this art piece evokes a deep feeling of peace and serenity, as the flowers quietly move through the spectrum of colors.
“Munro spent thirty years making notes and drawings in his artist sketchbooks. He noted both his interactions and those of others, with music, light, nature, and science. Behind the scene of today’s experience is a foundation of more than thirty years of thought, meditation, and craft. Your reaction of delight is a study in human interaction with art.”
The exhibit will be open through January 3 of 2021, and it’s truly something wonderful to experience. Get tickets and more information at Sensorio’s web site: https://www.sensoriopaso.com/