The Lillian Bottle Project

The Lillian Bottle Project is an international artistic collaboration between a group of friends, including composer, Ben Lear, designer Hayden Dunham, and light sculptors Mah Su Sim and Lisa Foo.

On July 10th, 2011, Ben Lear and a team of ten artists retreated to the pastures of Southern Vermont to build the set for his folk-opera, Lillian. Using little more than 3,000 plastic bottles, some X-acto knives, and a ton of LED lights, they created the sculptures you see below.

Look out for a performance in late August 2011.

Project is COMPLETE!

I spent the past week with nine of my best friends in Vermont, building the sculptures you see in these photos.  They’ll be part of the set for an upcoming Lillian performance.  A couple months ago, I googled “plastic bottle light sculptures” and the first result I found was this.

I discovered that two women in Malaysia, Lisa Foo and Mah Su Sim, design and build sculptures far more beautiful than I’d imagined.  I got in touch with them and they offered to design pieces for me.

They told me in order to pull off my plan, I’d need 30,000 bottles and a crew of 30 people to work for a week.  Obviously I scaled it down.

I ended up finding 3,000 mixed-plastic bottles at TAM waste-management facility in Shaftsbury, Vermont.  When I checked these bottles out, I realized something I hadn’t thought of before… how would I clean them all?  They were sticky from food waste, some were molding… it was pretty gross.

I ended with the following plan: I’d buy two 8” kiddie pools, fill them with bleach and baking soda, then hire five, ten to eighteen-year-old kids to help me dumpster dive, sink the bottles into the solution, hose them off, and bag them up.  This took an entire day but was some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

One little dude, with a reverse-mohawk, told me the moment he showed up, “I got kicked out of camp for dumpster diving.”  Needless to say he was my right-hand man the rest of the day.

One week later, I’m back in NY.  It’s the day before I’m set to head up to Vermont to build.  I head over to this light store in Chinatown and learn none of the lights I need are in stock.  I quickly discover that all the LEDs I need will be impossible to find.  Apparently it’s “off” season or something (I guess it is as far as you can get from Christmas) so no stores carried them.  The only manufacturers I could find were out of the country and would take weeks to ship.

Somehow, buried deep in the threads of some random website, I read that this one company had a warehouse in Brooklyn.  I found the address and drove over that morning.  It was a Chinese company and the one woman in the office who spoke English told me they never sold directly to customers and that I’d have to order online.

I pleaded.  She turned out to be cool.  She ended up giving me all the lights I needed on the spot and for literally 1/10th the price that they were online.

That next day I drove up and we began to work.  Some photos from our process are displayed above.  This was one of the most fulfilling, fun and overall best weeks of my life.  Thanks to everyone involved!

We are seeking artists, designers and craft enthusiasts from all backgrounds to participate in the Lillian Bottle Project. We will be spending a week in Vermont building internationally known artist Lisa Foo’s light sculptures, designed for folk opera  Lillian by Benjamin Lear. The installations will be featured at the Opera Opera Festival in New York City this August. These sculptures are made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles.On Sunday, July 10th, 20-30 of us will gather in Shaftsbury, Vermont at The Gulley, a beautiful, forested estate with a strong, artistic history (the house once belonged to Robert Frost and then to artist, Kenneth Nolan).We will spend one week building 10-15 light-sculptures.We will complete this project in groups, ideally taking shifts working on the different stages. The work is simple; cutting bottles, dividing the pieces, stapling them according to design, running LEDs through and then stringing them together.The most important part is getting a great group of enthusiastic people together to ensure we have as much fun as possible! Yes, It will require focus, precision and an awesome attitude. Yes, by supporting the project with these things you will be given time to have a ton of fun, in or out of the pool or sauna, Get a group of friends together or come alone and you’ll surely have some very interesting friends by the end of the week!  Project details:———— Schedule*:            Sunday, July 10th:  arrival           Monday, July 11th - Saturday, July 16th:    complete project.Sunday, July 17th:    departure.   *We will give first dibs to those who commit to the full week.  However, if you can only do a few days, submit anyway and we’ll try to work it out.————  If you’re coming from NYC, Transportation to and from Albany will be provided.  However, getting to Albany is up to you.  Megabus offers a really cheap ticket.———— You will be accommodated and fed very well.———— We will work hard to ensure we can play hard.To Submit:———— Please send your contact information along with a few  sentences about yourself and your creative background and/or what excites you about the project to Carolineb.Scott@gmail.comMore info on Lillian: ————- Lillian is a folk-opera written by Ben Lear, which premiered last May at Le Poisson Rouge.  It combines a 15-piece band, projected video-art/animation, intricate lighting, costumes, and NOW light sculptures to tell the story of a young man, who must scuba dive to the great pacific garbage patch to reclaim all he’s lost in his life.————- The re-imagining of Lillian will take place during the week of August 21st-28th as part of an opera festival produced and curated by Classic Voltage.  While multiple aspects of the production have evolved since last May, perhaps the most exciting is a new cross-Pacific collaboration with light-sculptor, Lisa Foo.These pieces will be truly glorious; we will marry design and activism to create stand-alone works of art that happen to reflect a global, dire issue: plastic pollution.And none of it will be possible without your help!  This will be an incredible week, guaranteed.Look forward to hearing from you!Ben Lear and the Lillian creative team.

We are seeking artists, designers and craft enthusiasts from all backgrounds to participate in the Lillian Bottle Project. We will be spending a week in Vermont building internationally known artist Lisa Foo’s light sculptures, designed for folk opera  Lillian by Benjamin Lear. The installations will be featured at the Opera Opera Festival in New York City this August. These sculptures are made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles.

On Sunday, July 10th, 20-30 of us will gather in Shaftsbury, Vermont at The Gulley, a beautiful, forested estate with a strong, artistic history (the house once belonged to Robert Frost and then to artist, Kenneth Nolan).

We will spend one week building 10-15 light-sculptures.
We will complete this project in groups, ideally taking shifts working on the different stages. The work is simple; cutting bottles, dividing the pieces, stapling them according to design, running LEDs through and then stringing them together.The most important part is getting a great group of enthusiastic people together to ensure we have as much fun as possible!

Yes, It will require focus, precision and an awesome attitude. Yes, by supporting the project with these things you will be given time to have a ton of fun, in or out of the pool or sauna, Get a group of friends together or come alone and you’ll surely have some very interesting friends by the end of the week!  

Project details:
———— Schedule*:       
Sunday, July 10th: arrival     
Monday, July 11th - Saturday, July 16th:    complete project.
Sunday, July 17th:    departure.

*We will give first dibs to those who commit to the full week.  However, if you can only do a few days, submit anyway and we’ll try to work it out.

————  If you’re coming from NYC, Transportation to and from Albany will be provided.  However, getting to Albany is up to you.  Megabus offers a really cheap ticket.

———— You will be accommodated and fed very well.

———— We will work hard to ensure we can play hard.

To Submit:

———— Please send your contact information along with a few  sentences about yourself and your creative background and/or what excites you about the project to Carolineb.Scott@gmail.com

More info on Lillian:

————- Lillian is a folk-opera written by Ben Lear, which premiered last May at Le Poisson Rouge.  It combines a 15-piece band, projected video-art/animation, intricate lighting, costumes, and NOW light sculptures to tell the story of a young man, who must scuba dive to the great pacific garbage patch to reclaim all he’s lost in his life.

————- The re-imagining of Lillian will take place during the week of August 21st-28th as part of an opera festival produced and curated by Classic Voltage.  While multiple aspects of the production have evolved since last May, perhaps the most exciting is a new cross-Pacific collaboration with light-sculptor, Lisa Foo.

These pieces will be truly glorious; we will marry design and activism to create stand-alone works of art that happen to reflect a global, dire issue: plastic pollution.

And none of it will be possible without your help!  This will be an incredible week, guaranteed.

Look forward to hearing from you!
Ben Lear and the Lillian creative team.

We Really Need Your Help: The re-imagining of Lillian will take place during the week of August 21st-28th as part of an opera festival presented by Classic Voltage.

While multiple aspects of the production have evolved since last May, perhaps the most exciting is a new cross-Pacific collaboration with light-sculptor, Lisa Foo.

These pieces will be truly glorious; we will marry design and activism to create stand-alone works of art that happen to reflect a global, dire issue: plastic pollution. 

On Sunday, July 10th, 20-30 of us will gather in Shaftsbury, Vermont at The Gulley, a beautiful, forested property with a strong, artistic history (the house once belonged to Robert Frost and then to artist, Kenneth Nolan). 

Composer and writer BEN LEAR will perform his new folk opera from his debut album, Lillian:  A Folk Opera, in two local Los Angeles shows.

Lillian tells the story of a young man kept awake by the fear that he’s watching his lover, who sleeps soundly in bed, drift away from him, becoming one of the many things he’s lost in his life.

 

He determines that all the things we lose end up in an island of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean and in a desperate attempt to reclaim these things; he sets off on a scuba-diving journey to that island. Along the way he meets strange sea creatures, who trigger discoveries within his mind’s journey to determine how and why he began to lose Lillian.  The young man’s desire for love propels him further into the night, and into a swell of events he could never have imagined.

 

BEN LEAR graduated from NYU with a degree in Music Composition.  Traditionally a songwriter, Ben began school with little interest in orchestral music.  However, his private instructor, Broadway music-director, Joe Church (The Lion King, In The Heights), encouraged Ben to learn the fundamentals.   Before long he was entranced by the orchestra and recognized an opportunity to apply its colors in his own music.  In the spring of 2009, Ben began his first large-scale work: Lillian: A Folk Opera, a song-cycle written for a small orchestra and band.

 

One year later, Lillian: A Folk Opera (which also served as his senior recital), premiered to a sold-out Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.  The environmental message of the show caught the attention of Fox News (ironically), who invited Ben to discuss plastic pollution and perform a song on their show, The Strategy Room.

 

Ben Lear has spent the last year producing his debut album as well as working closely with the non-profit world as a young, environmental spokesman.  Last November, Ben performed at Plastic Pollution Coalition’s TEDx event in Santa Monica.  He was subsequently invited on a three-week, sailing expedition run by 5gyres.  In March and April 2011, the team sailed from Chile to Easter Island, collecting 60 plastic samples in the previously un-studied South Pacific Gyre.  He has also recently performed for the UN, shot and  edited an upcoming 3D music video, and started writing an indie-music blog for the Huffington Post.

This coming August, Lillian: A Folk Opera returns to NYC as the featured production in an opera festival curated by Classic Voltage.  The show will exhibit many new changes, including an exciting collaboration with Malaysian, light-sculptor, Lisa Foo.

 

Though Ben operates in some space between the traditional music and theater worlds, he has not given up his first dream of being a performing songwriter.  He’s only recognized an opportunity to expand it, to use elements from the theater to augment and embellish the story inherent in his songs.  To Ben, the folk-opera is the best of both worlds.  And he hopes you agree.

 

BEN LEAR will present Lillian: A Folk Opera at two local venues.

 

Saturday, June 11th

The Federal  Bar @ 3:00pm

5303 Lankershim Blvd

North Hollywood, CA.   91601

 

 

Sunday, June 12th 

Hotel Café @ 8:00 PM

1623 1/2 N Cahuenga Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028-6201

Project Details and Schedule

Sunday, July 10th:                                                     arrival.

Monday, July 11th - Saturday, July 16th:               complete project.

Sunday, July 17th:                                                     departure.

*We will give first dibs to those who commit to the full week. However, if you can only do a few days, submit anyway and we’ll try to work it out. 

Transportation to and from Albany will be provided.  However, getting to Albany is up to you.  Megabus offers a really cheap ticket.

You will be accommodated and fed very well.