Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beautiful Light

My search for interactive art in the greater Phoenix area has not been in vain. Of note, last week I spent a couple days helping to assemble "The 4 Letter Word Machine," a giant interactive display that can form four letter words out of lights.

It's interactive in so far as different people can put up messages. The manifestation that I was helping to assemble is headed to an art festival in Toronto where it will be placed on sky-scrapers.

Being a part of the construction was fascinating. The artist has a large shop in a Phoenix industrial district and then he seems to command an army of volunteers/interns/friends/administrative assistants for several straight weeks to create the project. There are people in his shop 18 hours a day for what appears to be no money.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Interactive Art in the Suburbs

Sorry it's been a while, I've been getting settled into my life in the suburbs of Phoenix.

The Phoenix suburbs present a unique challenge for interactive public art compared to urban or small town settings because in the suburbs, people seem to either be inside or in their car. Walking is simply not done (especially in Arizona). You may have noticed that most of my past projects relied upon people wandering by and being able to stop and participate. That's considerably more difficult when people are zipping past at 50mph.

Still, this is the context in which I find myself and the group of people whom I am called to serve for the next year. So perhaps with a bit of help from my readers I can come up with ways to engage members of the community and encourage them to create with one another.

Here are some pictures of the street by my church to give a sense of what I'm working with (this is a fairly typical street).

Nearly every street corner has a shopping center.

There is a park across the street, but I have yet to see anyone in it. I am told that in a couple months the weather will cool down and people will start to go outside.
There is a considerable amount of space between the church and the street, so it might be possible to uses this area to get people's attention. However, the city has a strict sign policy. All signs have to be registered, which costs around $200 a sign.

Inside it's campus, the church has a couple nice outdoor spaces. This fountain is undergoing repairs and should be working soon. There are also plans to build a memorial garden around it.

A nice fenced in back lawn which is completely unused. Boy Scouts are building a fire-pit with benches on the dirt.

Next to the lawn is a labyrinth made out of gravel and rock.
The locals tell me certain shopping centers and malls are the main places where people hang-out, so I'm looking into the possibility of doing art there. The adventure continues!