Living With Art

Understanding Cameron McNall… and his exhilerating art installation at FLL’s Terminal 4.

Cameron McNall is a design wonder. He takes what are normally very ordinary experiences and transforms them into immersive design experiences. This is true whether the architect /artist is designing a family residence, throwing figurative shadows on Hollywood studio walls or manipulating spaces with light at international airport. As an architect, he believes in the total design experience, in the way architects like Louis Sullivan, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright often did… designing everything from house to furnishings to fabrics to dinner dishes and flatware.

McNall approached the design of his own Los Angeles house in this man- ner, encasing it in a filigreed brise soleil of cut metal flowers. The effect on passersby is usually two-fold. While the first response is often “Hey, wait a minute… you can’t do that. Can you?” The second response is more visceral… one of happiness, even a few giggles.

Seen by travellers on the main level, Mosaic’s true, immersive experience is reserved for arriving passengers who walk behind its translucent panels on the 2nd level.

Educated at UCLA and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, McNall has never boxed himself into a career that begins and ends with architecture. McNall is most comfortable at the intersection where art and architecture overlap. Yes, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome in Architecture, but he also received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture. Leaning into that relationship with art, McNall formed Electroland with Damon Seeley (now at Google) in 2001. Working on both public art and private commissions, McNall and Electroland have completed mind-blowing installations like Metal Matisse, a giant, visitor- activated sculpture placed in a Norfolk, Virginia park.

But it was perhaps McNall’s idea for the DirectTV headquarters, Aurora ––––a hyperbolic paraboloid with its interior sheathed in 47,000 LED light nodes under 600 curved, translucent panels –––– that relates most to his new installation, Mosaic, commissioned by the Broward Cultural Division and recently unveiled at Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport’s new Terminal 4. For Aurora, McNall used unique software to map video files into a walkway. At FLL, McNall literally expanded on that idea creating on its mezzanine-level, Mosaic, a 240’ long interpretation of a linear clock where colors morph almost imperceptibly over time. Mosaic is experienced one way by those waiting at the gates below, while arriving passengers are bathed in its changing light close up in Terminal 4’s enclosed mezzanine walkway.