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Urban Echo (working title)
ArtsMosis 2006 Project Proposal

Submitted by:

Christopher P. Baker (Graduate Arts)
Laura Baker (Graduate Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning)
J. Anthony Allen (Graduate Music)

Description:

The metropolitan experience is filled with encounters among strangers – from the brush of two shoulders in a crowd to animated conversations on street corners. When woven together, these threads of casual interaction form the fabric with which the city is made. Each encounter informs our sense of place in the urban framework. But this sense of place does not exist apart from each individual’s experience of it. So how does one make a true connection in the city? How do complete strangers come to understand one another and their place within the landscape?

This piece is intended to celebrate the stories that each person in a city has to tell, and the ways in which those stories help to create and strengthen the places they inhabit. These narratives are told on large screens that reach for the city skyline. Each person that encounters the piece is asked to answer who, what, where and why they are. Their answers are echoed onto the screens, becoming beacons – variable sculptures – that call on others to respond or initiate communication. The responses are digitally “woven” into the fabric of the screens, becoming a fixed part of the space. The individual stories of the people in this place grow to be the collective story of the place itself.

Technical Details:

Situated between the Regis West building and the Barker dance center, the installation will consist of four large vertical screens measuring approximately 30 feet high by 4 feet wide. Throughout the evening, visitors will be asked to add their responses to who, what, where and why they are. These responses may be collected via email, text messages, hand-written responses, or roving laptop kiosks carried by collaborators throughout the evening of the exhibition. The collected responses will be stored in a local database. At dusk, the four large screens will be illuminated by four video projectors that will tell the story of the arts quarter community and beyond. These projectors will project text and graphics – both painterly and digital – rendered by custom software. Each of the four screens will echo a call and response visually and aurally – reinforcing the ideas of communication and conversation. Visitors will be encouraged to inhabit and move among the space around the screens – both on and off the winding pathway between the two buildings.

Collaborators:

This is a collaboration between Christopher Baker, Graduate Art student, Laura Baker, Graduate Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture student and J. Anthony Allen, Graduate Music student. Christopher brings a host of technical, programming and production skills to the project. Laura brings a breadth of design, construction and architectural skills to bear – all with an acute sensitivity to the creation of natural urban gathering spaces. J. Anthony Allen brings a well-refined sense of sonic structure, aural landscapes and the rich communicative properties of music and sound.

Estimated Timeline:

21 June, 2006: Proposals due.
5 July, 2006: Second round of planning.
26 July, 2006: Screen construction begins.
26 July, 2006: Programming and Sound design begin.
30 August, 2006: Programming, sound design and construction completed.
6 September, 2006: In situ mockups and test runs carried out.
27 September, 2006: Final project completed.

Conclusion:

Ultimately, this project aims to excite the questions of identity tucked quietly within the folds of our common urban tapestry. We hope to glimpse and celebrate the multiplicity of viewpoints by asking the simple, yet profound questions: who, what, why and where are you?