Thursday, June 25, 2009

Community TV Incarnate

If you haven't already done so, I recommend reading yesterday's post "Albany Bulb" in order to understand the context for what happens in this one. Also, this post is very video intensive; if you would like to follow the project through still photographs, click here.

I was walking through the Albany Bulb yesterday with my friends Nick and Jess, when we passed a couple of concrete chunks and the following conversation occurred:

Nick: You know, those two concrete slabs kind of look like an old television monitor. It would be cool to turn them into one.

Ben: You free tomorrow?

The blocks at one point were covered with murals painted by a homeless man named "Picasso" and "Sniff," the team of artists that first began turning trash in the Bulb into art. However, in the past decade, the murals have been covered by graffiti tags. We in turn covered what we considered graffiti.

We wanted to preserve what remained of the Picasso and Sniff mural. To incorporate the remaining sections into our sculpture, we tried to create the appearance that the TV had broken open in a couple spots and the mural was peaking out from inside.

We used a lot of tape to create layers of color for buttons, vents, and jacks.
Align Center

We then wrote in words by hand.

We had hoped that passersby would contribute to what was playing on the screen. However, few people passed by while we were working, and of those who did only one felt comfortable painting something (apparently next time I need to create a project which people feel requires less technical skill to participate in). The one person who did participate was a homeless woman named Sara. She added a silhouette of a "Hello Kitty." With a bunch of empty space on the screen, we decided to write the phrase "Community TV" in hopes that future visitors would be encouraged to add art to it.

no TV set is complete without a remote...

final product


with artists on top


Elana said...

I told you this in person, but I still think that this is SO COOL! I also like the fact that (theoretically) it gives people a place to add their own art without ruining the integrity of the piece. Perhaps that could be a little bit clearer (write "add your own TV show/graphics/art" in small letters on the bottom of the screen?). Maybe this is something to explore further for public art--I'm not sure if it would deter taggers, but if there's a large built-in section for people to contribute, they might not be as compelled to tag all over it.

On the other hand, I suppose that having people tag over the art at the bulb ensures that the art changes. If the original painting on your "TV set" weren't covered entirely by taggers, you wouldn't have felt at liberty to change it. In an environment with no traveling exhibits and no curators, perhaps taggers are integral in encouraging artistic variety.

Ben Colahan said...

We had considered writing something like "insert programming here" but decided that our spray painting skills weren't up to the challenge.

A fair point about the taggers. However, there is enough untouched concrete and other junk lying around that nobody has to reuse material at this point.

Dave said...

Ben - got your phone message re: your visit but don't know how to contact you. Call again, leave a number or email me -


MF Connection said...

Ben, I'm glad you now have made a piece of art that expresses the idea behind your whole project - and that you have photographed it before others feel the need to boost their own sense of importance by defacing it. I'm reminded of the car-part sculpture I did with a friend when I was in my early twenties. Fortunately, though it was soon judged lacking in permanent value by the junkyard owner and so recycled, the memory of the artwork and of the pleasure of making it live on.
Elana, I think this whole blog, where anyone can write a comment but can't ruin the integrity of the blog organizer in an effort to be noticed, is a great solution to encouraging free expression free of agression against previous speakers.

Ben McKelahan said...

To what happens to the TV, check out: