One direction I’m considering is having an automated drone circling the ceiling space of the terminal. Embedded cameras would watch the space below, and periodically feed the signal to the LED screens and smaller screens in the terminal. I am also considering the possibility of broadcasting the feeds from the fourteen surveillance cameras in the terminal.
Robops are robotic birds designed to scare away real birds from perching on buildings, or resting in public space. I would like to augment one of these devices to include a camera, augmenting the role of surveillance in public spaces.
I’m inspired by Bjorn Schulke’s Space Observor:
In terms of motion, it would be amazing to achieve the level of fluidity that Festo has in their many UAV creatures, like the Air Penguin (head over to YouTube to see video of them in action)
I’m still in the process of determining my final site for my proposal for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council public art grant. As it would follow, I’m also in the process of determining my idea. I want to get a few ideas out of my system, but will go into more detail about one site in particular.
I’ve been thinking a lot about our financial system, especially recently since an entire movement sprang up in Lower Manhattan over the past month. I think there’s some amazing things happening in Zuccotti Park, but mainly I’m happy that people are calling attention to the problems we have maintaining our capitalist democracy, and that it is a system that needs a lot more checks and balances in order to function. I’m considering the World Financial Center as a location for a piece that engages with the economic crisis, as well as the Occupy Wall Street protests. It’s closely situated to Zuccotti Park, but also Ground Zero. The physical area down there has taken on incredible symbolic meaning for New Yorkers, and people around the world. I think it’s a unique location for an intervention, and one that would probably need to confront the weightiness of its surroundings.
I’m also considering the Deutsche Bank lobby, especially since the interior decoration and palm trees are so kitschy and amazing.
Another idea I had focuses on water around New York. I am also considering the World Financial Center plaza for this since it seems to be the site most connected to the water. There is a lovely pier not far from the plaza with pistons that rise and fall with the current.
In terms of a site-driven concept, I’m really drawn to the Staten Island Ferry terminal building at White Hall (or is it South Hall). I like transit hubs in general because there are so many different kinds of people in a relatively small place who are joined by their schedule and a common destination. The White Hall terminal is very built out, and has a lot of neon, LED screens with scolling colored text, and other flashy and eye catching elements. There’s definitely the potential for something I make to be lost in the noise, but that could also work for me if I want to play a more subversive or subtle angle. I am considering an intervention into one of the many electronic displays that people watch or interact with. I’d like to play with the time-based structure of the space, either by trying to elongate that sense of time, or quicken it (by adding to the “quality” of the waiting experience).
I have another idea which might not be that realistic, but I sort of love. It’s also very “Animals, People, and those In Between.” I was really taken with the relationship between the drug sniffing dogs and their handlers. These dogs are essentially highly trained and specialized laborers, who are able to do a job that a person could not do on her own. They smell large backpacks and suitcases for bombs, or drugs, or whatever they have been trained to do. The dogs are adorable labradors, with very big puppy eyes. When I walked by one, he (could be a she) seemed pretty sad and bored, but was still obedient and did everything his handler instructed him to do. The handler is a police man in uniform, and that brings another dimension to seeing a man hold a dog on a leash. I’m thinking about building some sort of dog house or structure that calls attention to the work these dogs do, and how their life is not really about play like it is for so many other pets. And while some labs become helpers for the blind, these dogs have become police dogs, and it is their job to help keep us humans safer.
I also saw canine cops at the World Financial Center Plaza, but I’m not sure how frequently they are there.
On Sunday I finally made it down to Occupy Wall Street, and arrived there in time to hear Slavoj Zizek speak to the crowd in Liberty Square. While his back was toward me for most of the time, this enabled me to fully experience the human crowd microphone that everyone has been talking about. I only heard his words through the collective voice of other people in the crowd listening as well. While there was one main “echo” after he spoke a sentence, there were other echos of his words trickling back into the far part of the crowd. “Mic checks” had to happen several times when the system started to break down (usually when peoples’ voices got tired of shouting), which got the crowd back into repeat mode. But the message did go through, albeit with these delays. Someone standing next to me remarked how this could be happening 2000 years ago, and the same techniques to amplify the message would be used. Besides the livecam in use nearby, I definitely saw his point.
There were a lot of wonderful things happening down there. I was impressed by the ability of the protestors to organize on a practical level – feed themselves, to set up communication with the outside world (the online stream has been crucial to getting their message out) – but mostly I appreciated the kinds of conversations that this movement has made possible. I hope that it continues – that the protestors are able to reach out to the majority of the American electorate and make people realize that a lot of them vote against their best economic interests. I’m not sure what will happen once the weather changes, but I think most people there know that they won’t be in that square forever. And I appreciated that a lot of peoples’ questions to Zizek were about how to speak to the people who wouldn’t consider protesting themselves, but who are very much in the 99%.
After OWS I headed to the Living as Form exhibition on Essex St. It was interesting to go to this right after what I’d seen downtown because the mood was markedly subdued. For an exhibition about social practice it felt very static and somewhat disconnected from the largest socially motivated protest movement New York has seen in a long time. There was an attempt to make connections to what was happening at the protest with a wall of protest signs, but I’m curious whether the signs would have served a better purpose (or made a better statement) at the protest itself instead of mounted on the wall of a gallery.
A project that I really did enjoy at the Living as Form exhibit was Suzanne Lacy’s The Roof is on Fire. Suzanne Lacy worked for a number of years with teenagers in Oakland, CA, as well as the Oakland Police Department, in an attempt to make each group better understand one another. The impetus for the project was a youth riot in June of 1993, which was spun to blame teenagers for starting it, but was definitely exacerbated by police present. One week later Lacy gathered 220 students from Oakland Tech High School on top of a roof top. They sat in open cars talking openly about issues affecting them and their community – violence, sexuality, race, economic disparity, lack of opportunity. NBC news and CNN were there with cameras covering the event and broadcasting their message.
I appreciated that the description of the piece explains that Oakland youth were used to attention by the media, but were generally portrayed in a negative light. This event (organized by Lacy and TEAM – a group of teachers, educators, artists and media workers) was designed as a “positive media spectacle,” where young people could be seen as citizens “instead of liabilities.” Lacy helped to facilitate a spectacle which gave a group of misunderstood people a platform to express themselves, and create a different discourse in the media and other communities.
This project also resonated with me because in 1993 I was 10 years old living about 5 miles away from where this event took place, but completely unaware of the world these teenagers were living in.
Our first assignment in Site Specific was to envision and implement an intervention on the High Line. I worked with Doug Thistlethwaite and Miguel Bermudez. We bounced around a few ideas around about what we wanted to do, but finally settled on installing a red carpet on the walkway. We’ve been talking in class about what gives the High Line its unique characteristics – its feeling as a “destination,” a promenade, an elite location, a place to see and be seen – and we decided to try and see what calling attention to those characteristics might make people do. We wanted to call attention that in a place like New York, the High Line sort of has this ability to make everyone a celebrity. In addition, I think we enjoyed the visual aspect of seeing a burst of red against all the green and brown foliage. As Doug said in an email, “I like it for its joyousness and passivity.”
So we set about getting our supplies. I was able to find a somewhat cheap rental option – a 15 ft by 3 ft carpet for $40. Budget was definitely the limiting factor for this project, and if we could have afforded it, we would have liked a larger carpet. We were also worried about what would happen if it rained, but the weather held out for most of the morning and early afternoon.
In order to simulate the feeling of having visitors to the High Line feel as though they were somehow celebrities, just by their presence up there, we also brought a tripod, and large camera with flash and umbrella, so that when people walked by on the carpet we also took their picture. The camera setup served a dual purpose as part of the installation and method of documentation.
Locating our installation was a bit of an organic process. We knew we wanted to put it somewhere where people would walk on it, preferably in the normal pathway so that they would have to encounter it. We also wanted a sight line that made an impact, that people could see for a while in their approach, so that it built anticipation for what was coming. We decided to install it right around 27th St, on the newer portion of the High Line.
Visually, I liked this location. I think there’s something odd about approaching a long stretch of the pathway and seeing a red carpet in the middle of, a carpet to nowhere so to speak. The problem with this location was that our carpet did not span the width of the walkway. People ended up doing what people do when they don’t understand something, or don’t want to upset anything unnecessarily – they walked around it. There were a few playful people who walked on top of the carpet, but most of these people were polite enough to ask first.
So after a while of seeing people’s reactions to (or avoidance of) the carpet in this location, we decided to try a different location to see what people would do. Our second location is the overlook facing west on the other side of the new theater, around 26th St. We placed the carpet so that the end of it was on the main pathway, and the rest of it led to the overhang, jutting up against the railing. This location ended up working much better with the width of the carpet we had, because people picked up on the fact that the carpet was supposed to lead you somewhere to be seen. We moved the tripod and camera setup nearby, but after a while we realized that it was making people too self conscious, and they were avoiding the carpet so that they wouldn’t have to endure the camera flash. At the end of our experiment, we took the tripod away to observe what happened what people just saw the carpet. It ended up being a much more engaging installation without the camera and tripod. The carpet was striking enough, and the path it led people towards was easy enough to stop at and take each others’ picture. It became yet another picturesque photo op stop on the High Line.
In the next iteration, I would definitely try to see what installation a red carpet the same width as the pathway would do, so that people were forced to walk on top of it. I’m not sure if the camera and flash are necessary, but perhaps they’d work better with a wider carpet as well.
I enjoyed this exercise because it helped me think more in the mode of experiential installations, and how something without much form (but perhaps a lot of visual and cultural connotations) can resonate within a space. In the end I think our project was very conceptual – an area I haven’t explored too much in my previous work, but one I find challenging and interesting nonetheless.
I haven’t yet had this project critiqued, so I would be interested to hear what people’s responses are to reading this entry, and perhaps we can explain our process or answer any questions on the High Line on Thursday.
In terms of audiovisual or textual references, here is a funny installation that comments on the role of rugs as decorative object, but calls attention to the inherent qualities in rugs when used in art installations. Not sure this is what Marina had in mind…
Marina assigned us an hour-long in class exercise to be completed in pairs at the Bobst Library. The prompt was to create a set of instructions for someone to intervene with library.
Here is Marina’s Brief:
Instruction Set for Strangers or. How to Re-use the Library
Groups of 2.
make a walking tour or instruction set.
It must have at least 3 features, stops or instructions.
Do not alter the space in any way. All alterations should exist solely in your instructions.
These could include
- reconfiguring the expectations of the space
- redefining the meanings of the space(s)
- redefining the uses of the space(s)
- reassigning aspects of the space to the imaginary
You could alter the space
- by altering the participants’ physical movement
- by leveraging specific sensory perceptions (sound, touch, sight, smell) or through the deprivations of these
- by shifting the code, and guiding a participant’s facilities at interpretation
I worked with Chien-Yu to come up with a set of instructions for the library. Our process was pretty open, we wandered around, moving up the floors, finding vistas, entering different spaces to see what the mood felt like in each of them. On the way, we stumbled up on the East Asian Studies area and she showed me this amazing scroll painting that she recognized. We ended up with two sets of instructions. One is much more about the space of the library, and the other is about the social aspect.
Here are the instructions we made:
Instructions for Bobst Library
by Chien Yu and Genevieve
1. Find an area of stacks on any floor of the library that appeals to you.
2. Go to the first shelf in the stack.
3. Find a book that draws your attention.
4. Remove that book, and the three or four books around it. Place them nearby on the shelf, preferably on the other side of some bookends.
5. Look through the hole you made.
6. Go to the other side of the stack, and repeat the process on the other side of the hole.
7. Continue this process as long as you wish.
8. Observe the space and other people through this little frame.
1. Find an empty seat which is occupied by someone’s belongings.
2. Write a little note to them.
3. Place it on the seat.
We came up with the first set of instructions by experimenting with the books in the stacks. We thought it was interesting how you could catch glimpses of people when you peered through the open spaces around the books. We wanted to try to see if we could create a sightline across many stacks, so that you had a little tunnel of vision through the books.