Stage Buoys

Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

On View
September 13 and 16, 2017


Designed for Here Hear Chicago, a series of performances by artist Nick Cave, Studio Gang’s Stage Buoys are mobile objects that collectively define a space for performance. 

Fundamentally, a stage is a platform—a space for a variety of cultural and civic events including concerts, speeches, and rituals. While traditionally the stage is the fixed focal point of a purpose-built structure, the Stage Buoys can signify a stage anywhere and respond to movement, offering a platform in terms of a conduit rather than a stationary surface. For the Here Hear Chicago performances, more than 200 Stage Buoys demarcate the stage, defining a space that is neutral enough to host different performances but specific enough to give an identity to the larger series. The self-balancing, mirrored objects react to and reflect the movements of the performers and can be re-arranged for each performance.

The design references buoys or sea marks that float on the surface of water, communicating information through color, light, material, and shape. Like a traditional buoy, the Stage Buoys are designed with a very low center of mass; the height of the objects—made from lightweight cardboard finished with a mirrored film—is balanced by the weight of a rounded, concrete base. The Buoys return to an upright position after interactions with the performers or being moved by other forces such as the wind, adding to the dynamism of the performances.

Video by Spirit of Space

The concrete bases curing at Center Stage Productions’ fabrication shop.

Consultant Team

Center Stage Productions, fabricator