Thousands of paper windmills seem to spin effortlessly in The Wind Portal, an installation by Lebanese artist Najla El Zein at London's V&A Museum this month. However, the production process wasn't exactly effortless. In fact, extreme accuracy was required to build this massive wall of wind, because it relies on air — and air is volatile.
Each white windmill was folded by hand and attached to plastic tubes on the 7.9m-high gate using 3D-printed clips. Inside these tubes, an automated system produces "wind" at various speeds, creating a varied landscape of sounds and tactile sensations. The wind is barely detectable, but it's part of the reason the wheels actually, you know, spin.
And installing those holes took even more attention to detail, because if you're off by so much as a millimetre, the wind will flow in a completely different way. In short, it was a meticulous process — but it turned into something quite lovely and fanciful.
Visitors are supposed to walk through the enormous gate and experience the movement of the paper pieces around them. El Zein says The Wind Portal is supposed to represent memories and inspiration. It's easy to interpret it that way too — because isn't there something whimsical and light about thousands of pinwheels spinning together in a sun-filled hallway? [Dezeen]