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Metropolis / So SoCal

A Leap in the Dark

November 24, 2002|MARA SCHWARTZ

"When people go to the beach, everybody gets excited if they see a dolphin," says Jeff Frymer. "It's just so magical." Particularly when said mammalians are neon-colored visions that cavort in dazzling curves behind their creator's bicycle. Out pedaling on the town after night falls, Frymer isn't always visible, but the animated dolphins he fabricated from electroluminescent blue wire make quite a splash as they leap and dive in his wake. Frymer, who during daylight hours rides the bike sans dolphins to Cal State Northridge, where he's getting his master's in psychology and counseling, has towed the finny duo along the Santa Monica bike path, Pacific Coast Highway and the avenues of Sherman Oaks. Friends have requested that the man-made mammals accompany him to their birthday parties. "Anybody with any kind of artistic or creative sense, or sense of wonder, reacts to them," says Frymer, 40.

Originally created for Nevada's Burning Man arts festival, what appear to be two dolphins are actually multiple wire animals (10 per dolphin) lined up and attached to a 6-by-6-foot mesh screen. As with a cartoon "flip book," a sequencing instrument lights each figure one after the other, creating the effect of individual creatures in motion. Frymer, who's not a professional artist and had never worked with EL-wire before, took about 200 hours to research the process, complete the animation and rig the whole thing up.

"A lot of people ask if I sell them," says Frymer of his creation. "It's funny how commerce and commercial value are on people's minds a lot. The whole idea is to get people to appreciate things the way they are--when you see a dolphin in the ocean, you don't wonder what it costs."

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