Hundreds of people attending the TEDxSMU Disruption conference on Dec. 3, 2011, turned their attention to the artistic installation of an ice sculpture garden outside the Wyly Theatre in Dallas.

TEDxSMU commissioned award-winning Dallas artist, Shane Pennington, to create the art he named “Transcendence” in The Dallas Arts District. Pennington received his inspiration for the project from the traditional Karesansui Japanese rock garden.

Pennington carved bigger-than-life human figures and other sculptures out of huge blocks of ice weighing the equivalent of a subcompact car. The blocks arrived a few days before the conference from a Belgian manufacturer that produces the only clear, bubble-free ice available in the world, according to Pennington. It took six weeks to freeze the blocks.

frontpagetv, a sister company of WrightIMC, set up two small HD cameras to capture time-lapse images of the interaction of light from the city skyline reflecting off the sculptures.

This video shows the scale of the garden after it was unveiled.

Pennington embedded native rocks from his hometown in Texas inside the ice during the freezing process. The rocks represent the human heart in the finished forms.  As the ice of the human body sculpture melted, Pennington envisioned the rocks inside slowly returning to the garden to symbolize the relationship between environment and humanity.

The artist planned to take time-lapse pictures of the sculpture garden to document the entire transformation of the melting ice sculptures. However, high wind caused the pole that the camera was mounted on to vibrate, which ruined the images.

This following video, taken six days after installation, captures images of the altered shape of the large human form. We planted our cameras at ground level to record a 10-hour sequence. The resulting play of lights from downtown skyscrapers shining through the sculptures delighted Pennington.

frontpagetv also produced a “TEDxSMU Behind the Scenes” documentary underwritten by WrightIMC for the event. You can view it by clicking here.