Serotonin – art installation

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    Proposal for large-scale art installation at Familia Feliz

    Arlo Laibowitz
    15 January 2018


    Imagine being in the garden of Familia Feliz in Cervera del Maestre. The sun shining from above. People working in the vegetable garden. Some students working on a research project near one of the caravans. And, in front of you, the sculpture garden. Midway on the hill, a big structure, an art installation that reminds you of the ball-and-stick molecules of chemistry class, but different. Some people are walking around the sculpture, entering and exiting the three bigger spheres that are at the far ends. Others are walking or sitting around the smaller elevated orbs, writing and drawing on small pieces of fabric, and attaching them to the structure. You walk up the hill, enter one of the big spheres, and are confronted with an interior that invites you to add your thoughts and feelings on “Acts of Kindness”. An older man is writing a short poem on a piece of fabric, how others help him in this stage of his life. A younger woman is drawing a picture of a person handing out gifts to children. You walk on and see that on the smaller orbs there are pieces of fabric, with personal texts and artworks on topics such as “nurture relationships”, “cultivate optimism”, and “commit to your goals”. In another sphere, you see two middle-aged women looking at the work other people made on “forgiving”. As you walk on, you see more small works on the smaller orbs, on “spirituality” and “savoring joys”. In the last big sphere, you stop, and start working yourself on a little artwork on your thoughts and feelings about “gratitude”. After a while, you attach your piece of fabric to the piece, and walk out. As you look at the sculpture, the hill, the people in the garden, you appreciate life with a soft, affirming quality. You are surround by happiness. You are in Serotonin.

    What is Serotonin?

    Serotonin is a large-scale interactive, participatory installation, inspired by the molecular structure of one of the “happiness molecules” serotonin. A structure of intricate ball-and-stick models made out of natural materials, that still distinctly stands out from their natural surroundings. A sculpture that invites participants to explore, add, and interact with different practices of happiness. With a more reflective and intimate side to it, in inviting participants to interact with each other inside the larger spheres’ mini-pavilions, and together reflect on different aspects of happiness.

    Size and Footprint

    The installation is approximately 17 meters at its widest width, formed in a three-dimensional ‘triangle’ moving upward on four levels of the hill, with a total height difference of more than 10 meters. The largest spheres are approximately 3 meters in diameter, the medium sized orbs are approximately 1.25 meters in diameter, and the smallest balls are approximately 0.60 meters in diameter.


    The installation consists of different sized and shaped spheres/orbs, with connecting “trusses” in between the spheres, to form the distinct molecular model pattern.

    At this point in time, I am thinking of possibly using three different polygonal shapes for the three different sizes of spheres/orbs/balls, all created by tetrahedron, pentahedron, and polyhedron shapes.

    All elements of the sculpture are made with natural materials. Mostly with ‘cañas’, endemic bamboo-esque canes. Possibly for connecting and further esthetics with clay, hemp, twine, and wood as well.


    Serotonin will hopefully be a very distinctly ‘lit’ installation at night. Ideally, the structure is treated with photoluminescent resin, so that the installation stands out subtly, but spectacular at night, without any electric power needs. Alternatively, the possibility of using low-power LED floods powered by solar-powered cells could be explored.

    Elevated areas and safety

    Oxytocin is meant to be explored, but most likely because of the sturdiness of the materials used, should not be climbed or sat on. The height difference covered by the structure, and the stonewalls and vegetation that are a natural part of the surrounds and interior of the structure, enable exploration, but at the same time are possible hazards as well.


    TBD. Serotonin is large-scale art, but will be made on a very tight ‘no-budget’, using natural materials and as little extra costs as possible.


    Serotonin is a piece is that is intended to be participatory and interactive, not only for the visitors of the sculpture garden, but also earlier in the process. I invite others to share their art and creativity during the construction phase, and afterwards. In a way, Serotonin should be considered as much a “canvas” for happiness, as Familia Feliz in Cervera at large.

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