PROPOSAL FOR A PUBLIC ART COMMISSION, 2006
This project is derived from two of my larger photographic projects entitled The Untitled Project and Floating Logos. The Untitled Project is a series of image/text pairs printed at large scale in which the photograph (on the left) is digitally stripped of all text, while the text piece (on the right) is a graphic representation of all the text from the photograph, rendered in black on a white background. Floating Logos is a series of single images in which photographs of signs atop very tall poles have their support structure digitally removed. This leaves the viewer with images of signage that seems to supernaturally float in the sky. The intention behind these projects is to draw attention to the ways in which we are communicated to as a culture by deconstructing public space. I am interested in focusing attention on the constant stream of information we are subjected to, and on its highly sophisticated methods for exerting influence. At the same time, the visual results are eye-catching and engaging.
I propose to create two mosaics (in this specific case 6×14 and 6×12 feet) that use elements from both projects to create an entirely new piece of unique, site-specific artwork. Using white, irregular mosaic tile as a backdrop, I will reproduce the text, logos, signage and figures from the areas along the street immediately surrounding the site of the installation. Although the source material of the artwork will be photographic, the signage and figures will translate into solid, shaped color fields reproduced in tile or glass. The text will be crisp, laser cut, colored tile or glass that will fit snugly into their corresponding color fields, or the background mosaic where a color field does not exist. Although it is impossible to match colors perfectly, the colors of the text, logos and signage in the mosaic will closely correspond to the colors in the real space out on the street.
Unlike The Untitled Project and Floating Logos, these pieces will feature figures photographed on the sidewalks surrounding the station. These figures, although based on people from the neighborhood, will also be reduced to three or four color fields made from tile. With all the detail removed, the figures become anonymous but will still be conceptually connected to the neighborhood.
The goal of this project is to (1) record signage and people from the immediate area around the installation site, (2) isolate them from their original environment and (3) re-present them to the viewer. The intention is that the viewer will recognize elements of their familiar environment within the piece but will be challenged to look at it in a new way. Ideally, the object is to get viewers to pay closer attention to their environment, particularly the ever-changing and increasing number of messages communicated within it.
The decision to include figures in the mosaic design was reached with two ideas in mind. Generally, viewers are visually drawn in by the presence of the human form. I think that a wall of colored signage may be easier for viewers to overlook than a wall that has people as a reference point. The figures will also serve as a point of reference that specifically places the signage in relation to the viewer. Not only will viewers be able to place themselves within the piece, but as they leave the station they will know where to look for elements of text and signage in the exterior environment.
It is important that the selection of included figures accurately and respectfully represents the cultural and ethnic make-up of the neighborhood.
This type of mosaic is designed to last for decades. Because of it’s longevity, it will also serve as an historical marker for the neighborhood surrounding the installation. Businesses will continue to come and go over the years and, inevitably, the ethnic make-up of the area will change. The mosaics will function as a reminder of the history of the area for future generations.
This particular example was created for a specific site. The mosaics will look different if the project is implimented at a different location. The idea could be carried out in almost any urban setting with any number of panels at any size.