As part of my show, A Game of Troy, I made a piece called Partial Infinity Room. It's an octagonal structure that resembles a kiosk - an outdoor bulletin board for public announcements in the form of bills, fliers, notices. For most functional kiosks, the structure itself is essentially meant to be invisible - a neutral territory for the information posted on its surface. It's a space of endless possibility and constant change, a reflection of the current concerns of the surrounding community. It's a layered window into many priorities and points of view. However, compared to the ephemera that coat its surface, a kiosk has such weight, permanence, physicality. There's always an interesting tension with a kiosk - although its surface is basically an anarchic space, the structure itself is usually constructed, owned, and provisionally made available by an organized entity like a business, institution, or government body. Also, although that outer surface is up for grabs, there's usually a hidden inner space, a negative space that is the necessary byproduct of the intended three-dimensional walk-around experience.
I'm interested in kiosks not just for their function, but because they look bizarre. Many of them have elements that make them look like miniature houses or castle turrets. So there are these miniature houses everywhere. Owned by the city, the university, the co-op, the park service... Papered over by rock bands, local businesses, cults, pyramid schemes, activists... Occupied by nothing. Little empty houses. Does anyone live there? Does anyone look inside?
Partial Infinity Room is a kiosk, stripped of its exterior fliers. Its interior, partially visible through cracks in the walls, contains a simple platform, an origami form, and mirrors. Its octagonal mirrored interior is inspired by a design for an infinity room sketched by Leonardo Da Vinci. "A man standing inside it can see himself infinitely from all sides," he wrote. Da Vinci never built the structure because mirrors couldn't be made large enough in his day. Partial Infinity Room is also a frustrated attempt at infinite self-regard - it uses scraps of salvaged mirror that can't possibly cover its whole interior or give the external viewer a complete picture of the interior space.
I can't mention old school kiosks without mentioning the new kiosk of the social network -- bulletins, events, and tweets. Both practices coexist, but the physical practice of flyer-ing seems clunky and almost tragically finite compared to the infinite viral reproducibility of the digital bulletin. Floods of communication and promotion from amateur and professional alike, all taking place on the trying-to-be-invisible (yet also vying for brand recognition) surfaces of Facebook, Twitter, or thousands of other websites one might care to name, all of which own the metaphorical real estate upon which the communication takes place and make profits in proportion to the sheer volume of communication that they facilitate. There's no easy interior/exterior analogy to make between the digital network and the analog kiosk - if anything, by reducing these public bulletins to pure ephemerality, the digital format eliminates the possibility for a mysterious 'interior space' that I see in the kiosk and even the array of objects that can be fastened to its surface.
Partial Infinity Room didn't have a life as a functioning kiosk before I installed it in the gallery, but I'm interested in giving it one afterwards. It might get torn apart, or it might turn into a popular community bulletin board - I'm curious to see what happens. I've been thinking of places where there's lots of pedestrian traffic but where a kiosk seems unlikely or out of place. On the other hand, I've also been considering places where there's little to no pedestrian traffic - where a kiosk would be so incongruous that it might invite exploration of a difficult terrain (or at least some raised eyebrows.)
One place that fits more in the first category is a corner that I bike past almost every day; the northwest corner of 26th and Hiawatha. It's a bit of a unique area; Hiawatha is an urban highway, but it has a fairly well-travelled sidewalk on the west side, between the clinic at 28th street and the pedestrian bridge near 24th. At 26th there's a giant vacant lot where pedestrian traffic has worn a perfect diagonal line of dirt across the patchy grass. I think this will be the first site I'll try.