For my independent project I wanted to explore ephemeral art in public spaces. My initial idea was to follow another project I'm working on related to unemployment and create an installation. However, the material I had was not enough to make justice to the project and reducing it's scale would have established a weaker relation with the outdoor public space. Meanwhile, I visited Spectacular of the Vernacular(a show at Walker Art Center) 3 times in one week. I began to think about vernaculars from new generation's point of view and how we actually look at our vernaculars. Mainly about how can I bring aesthetics from digital world into real structural world? A parallel thought was inspired by Chris Larson's Unnamed - wooden bridge artwork in that show. It was made of hundreds of wooden sheets so I wondered, what can a single piece of wood do in a carefully constructed city?
Many of us look at the world through lens these days. We experience magical movements on cellphone screens while recording. We prefer to watch the viewfinder on a camcorder rather than seeing it directly with eyes, even when we are physically present at an event. The screen and camera's focusing rectangle have come so close to us, I decided to give it a life. Here I had another opportunity to create direct, physical interaction between two sides of this square phenomena.
I created two pieces of brackets using a single plank of wood, some wood glue and few iron screws. I kept it 6' tall with two 2' extensions on sides so that it would fit into my vehicle. Idea was to install these viewfinders at places where people can walk around and through it. The vision border would stay there only for one to two hours and then it could be found at a different place for another couple of hours. First installation was on Friday May 13, 2011 outside Carlson School of Management followed by one hour installation at 21st ave & riverside. It was a good test and I found many flaws in the design. The installation fell onto the ground many times, whenever wind was slightly stronger. First, I couldn't think of a better choice than adding triangular support to the bottom which would have destroyed it's visual appearance. Then I tried to make another brand new set with just one screw at each joint. It created a somewhat weak structure but I could then twist the extensions a little bit to make sure it stands straight on any type of surface. I also added some cushion around the screws making it kind of flexible but giving better resistance against wind. Just like a tree and branches, the vertical panel can shake but does not collapse that easily.
I decided to take risk and installed the visual border near west river parkway which normally sees a good amount of joggers, walkers and dogs. Since the path is narrower risk was higher if it falls on someone. I was quite sure about the safety, still I watched it from a distance without camera so no one could relate the piece with me. I changed locations throughout Sunday afternoon and noticed couple of walkers encountering the vision border twice. They stopped, turned around and looked through it and kept walking.
Being wood, the installation echoed with the surrounding trees. I thought the height and size was pretty friendly for a human height. It did not fall and did not feel like a door or some sort of check point. The interaction was natural and easy. Yet, it defined being on one or the other side, narrowed down vision to fit within the border and immediately expanded the vision drastically as one crossed it.
From my personal observation, new symbols, new cultures and new imagery (just like new people) when enter into our lives one at a time, it is so much easier and natural for us to remain comfortable. At the same time, the new element looses it's original identity and becomes a fusion of two worlds. I wonder if this is exactly how cultures transform?