Culver City, CA – On December 19th, 2019, The City of Culver City commissioned Media Artist Nate Mohler to create a dynamic temporary artwork for the Dale Jones City Hall Courtyard. Culver Current is a groundbreaking mixed medium light sculpture displaying a combination of digital art on custom-sculpted Corian®. The visually stunning interactive fountain has been renewed for two new shows throughout the year starting on April 1st.

“Culver City has a long proud tradition of supporting the arts. As we celebrate 30+ years of our Art in Public Places Program, we’re excited to bring this innovative, digital light sculpture to City Hall for Culver City residents and visitors to enjoy throughout the winter months. Commissioned by the City through our Cultural Trust Fund, we hope this artwork will inspire, entertain and enlighten the entire community,” – Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells. 

In an effort to capture the essence of the city, Mohler’s sculpture explores the fusion of art and technology. Mohler used photographs from around Los Angeles and the Culver City area to be the “paint and paintbrush” for the video art projected onto the facade of the sculpture. Mohler explains further;  “I wanted the colors and textures of the neighborhood to influence a natural undulating flow and current that would appear around the entire sculpture. I started using style transfer as a tool to allow me to imagine and dream new skylines, abstract structures, and beautiful moments.” The resulting animations are avante garde but still hold slight hints of the LA Street or the familiar architecture of Culver City. The show consists of a series of about 15 video art pieces, with photographs ranging from the architecture on Hayden Tract to street views of downtown LA.

The process consists of first going out and getting photographs to be used as styles and colors. Mohler then creates base animations of waves or undulating currents to mimic the serene motion one might find in a fountain. Lastly, Mohler combines the texture and styles of the photographs with the base animations using neural style transfer, creating completely new imagery. Harnessing the machine as a tool to imagine. Mohler elaborates more on his process;

 “When I do style transfer research for a piece I embrace the mistakes and unexpected outcomes. The beauty lies in the unexpected tests, I often test 25 different methods attempting to break the Ai to get a result both interesting and original. For artists we strive for the unexpected results that turn out beautiful, those are the gems in the creative process. I suppose I could shy away from the tools and process I’m using but I believe it’s part of the concept and what makes the pieces interesting. For me, style transfer allowed for a good balance between creative control and unexpected outcome. I still have to sculpt the motion of the video and discover the proper photos and style to be used.”

Culver Current, consists of a 9-foot tall cylindrical steel frame with 494 LED panels inside a custom thermoformed Corian® shell. Projected video illuminates the Corian® surface from within, diffusing along ripples cut into the surface. Culver Current’s fountain uses no actual water. Instead, a series of video art works reflective of the greater Los Angeles and Culver City area are projected on the facade of the cylindrical sculpture. The fountain’s show lasts about 15 minutes long on a loop with accompanying sound by composer Luke Mombrea. Two unique shows will be created including updates throughout the 2021-2022 year. 

“This sculpture is a reflection of the past, a moment in the present, and a discussion of the future” said Mohler, who investigates connectivity and audience participation through unconventional space and immersive art. Having grown up near Culver City, Mohler wanted to mirror the Culver City community and tap into the inspiration the city gave him professionally. 

The City of Culver City commissioned the project, with support from Christine Byers of the Cultural Affairs Commission and City Council. Irina Panasyuk of IVP Public Art facilitated artist selection, project coordination, and public outreach. A dedicated team of professionals, including Jacob Fishman, Ruben Jimenez of Eastside LED and welder Eric Vrymoed, worked with Mohler on the project since its inception. Mario Romano of the design engineering studio M.R. Walls oversaw the fabrication of the Corian® shell and created the custom-cut surface based on natural lines found in the ripples of water and sand. 

Be sure to tag #CulverCurrent on Social Media. 

Nate Mohler is an emerging media artist who works with technology as a paint brush to build conceptual and avant-garde experiences through digital art. A 2019 UCLA graduate with a B.A. in Design & Media Arts, Mohler is intrigued with the fusion of conceptual art and technology to support connectivity and social activism with unconventional space and sound. His work focuses on eliciting action and question through digital mediums such as projection mapping, immersive installations, sculpture and video art. Mohler treats each project as an opportunity to evoke emotion, challenge thought, or support social change.