Timothy A. McNerney, II

StatueMod.org is the website for the Institute for Statue Modification, an organization devoted to the study of statue modification, providing citizens with resources for dealing with unpopular statues and incorrect monuments.


Classes Thesis

StatueMod.org is a comprehensive site that aims to give the Institute for Statue Modification a home on the Internet. Through the website the Institute can better provide resources to citizens across the country interested in statue modification as a revolutionary practice. What’s more, the website serves as a place for participation. In addition to learning about statue modifications in recent history, people can search and contribute to an open catalogue of statues across the United States today in need of modification, and imagine new possible statues for tomorrow.

The Institute for Statue Modification is dedicated to statue modification and its applications for revolutionary change. The Institute aims to investigate where popular opinion and the decorative elements of the urban landscape diverge. At the foundation of this investigation are several key questions: Whom do we choose to monumentalize and why? How do we recontextualize statues, monuments, and other fixtures in urban space when cultural attitudes toward history change? How can we collaboratively enact this process of recontextualization? How does shifting the balance of power in statue and monument representation translate to a political shift in power?

StatueMod.org was created to help the Institute for Statue Modification achieve its mission. The website is divided into three sections. The first is a research center where people can read and submit articles and papers about statue modification. The research center also serves as a news source for statue modification related current events. The second is a citizen-contributed open catalogue called the StatueWiki, where people can add or edit entries of statues in need of modification. The third is the StatueLabs, a place to explore ideas for modified or new statues.

The concept of statue modification is not new. Looking at the past couple hundred years of history we see many examples of statue modifications. In addition to historical findings my research includes fieldwork. I have spent time surveying statues and monuments, specifically focusing the cities of New York and Washington, DC. As of the launch of the site, the project will also include examples from Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco.

My target audience is anyone who encounters an incorrect statue or improper monument and wants to do something about it. StatueMod.org provides a resource to help citizens to become statue modifiers.

User Scenario
IDEAL USER SCENARIO: Jamal is a 17 year-old Black kid from New Orleans. Jamal loves his hometown and considers himself proud to be from such a fine American city rich in culture and history. However, he finds himself disturbed by the white supremacist Liberty Monument, commemorating the battle at Liberty Place. After a violent uprising against the Louisiana Reconstruction government, the White League installed the statue during the brief time that they were in control of the state government. City officials in recent years have acknowledged this statue as an embarrassing reminder of a racist past, but instead of removing it they simply relocated it to a less visible spot.

Jamal feels that the city has failed to properly deal with the statue. Wondering what he can do, he logs onto StatueMod.org for guidance. There he discovers the StatueWiki, an open catalogue of statues in need of modification. He searches for the Liberty Monument and finds an entry on it. However, the entry is missing pictures. He goes out to monument's current location, takes pictures, and adds them to the entry.

To Jamal, the monument is polarizing and represents racist ideas. Still feeling the need to do something, Jamal gets together with a couple of friends and they talk about the statue. They decide that the statue should be toppled but not destroyed. They sketch out their reimagined Liberty Monument and upload it to the StatueLabs gallery. Feeling empowered with data from the StatueWiki about the physical attributes of the statue such as material composition, height and weight, they carry out their plans and topple the statue. The city of New Orleans, realizing that this is the will of the people, leave the statue alone and make no plans to remove or restore it. Liberty Monument decays over time. Black people displaced by Hurricane Katrina see the fall of the statue as a sign of the end of white power and start to move back to their hometown in droves. They rebuild their communities. The racist white folks flee to the suburbs. The non-racist white people assimilate with the Blacks. They intermarry over several generations until the population of New Orleans becomes one large group of beautiful mahogany-skinned people living together in harmony. The people of future-New Orleans build statues not to war or generals but to artists, poets and educators.

The website is built with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The StatueWiki is based on MediaWiki. The StatueLabs uses PHP and a MySQL database. The Research Center uses the TextPattern content management system. Both MediaWiki use PHP and MySQL databases.

I discovered that my project ignites people's imaginations. I like how this subject awakens an interest in statues and brings them out of the background and into the forefront. I wanted people to start paying more attention to the objects in their daily landscape and I have succeeded in achieving that goal through this project. It has been very interesting to discover that most people have reacted positively to this project so far.