An iconic Oregon landmark, the towering space-age style elevator, is set to be transformed into the canvas for a giant video installation piece by Tiffany Carbonneau. Called Illuminate Oregon City, the video will be four hours long and play nightly, featuring snippets from the city’s rich history as well as a selection of critical contemporary moments.
“My work explores the impact of our surroundings by presenting familiar structures in an unfamiliar setting and allows the viewer to experience subtle architectural influences in a significant way,” – Tiffany Carbonneau
Carbonneau’s approach to public art is a measured one which involves extensive consultation with Oregon’s residents to uncover which elements of the city’s history should be included.
“I’m really trying to involve the public in the ideation process, and allow the public to engage with a work of art,” she said.
It’s a smart approach that gives residents the opportunity to get engaged with the artwork before it is even unveiled. Not only does this give the artist an opportunity to discover which elements of the city’s evolution truly resonates with its inhabitants, it also helps to build support for the piece. This is critical given that the piece will cost around $240,000, partially funded with a National Endowment for the Arts grant and matched by the city. Illuminate Oregon City will run throughout 2014, with the option to extend the project further if it is successful.
“Through means of video and projection, I document and re-contextualize structures and systems that sustain a post-industrial way of living in a capitalist economy. While invoking a sense of awe and wonderment, the peripheral and fleeting contexts of structures such as smokestacks from a factory, a freight barge on a river, or a petroleum refinery’s cityscape-like lights at night lead to our culture’s physical and psychological removal from the very processes that sustain it.”
The role that consultation plays in public artwork varies depending on the goal of the piece. For a work like Carbonneau’s, which is specifically about the location in which it is situated and is intended to broadly engage the city with its own history, it is a critical step. Similarly, works of a permanent nature which significantly impact the landscape are also works which should be shared with those it affects in the planning stages. However, works that are intended to surprise the passerby, like Paul McCarthy’s giant inflatable sculpture, are better left under wraps.
Images Courtesy of Tiffany Carbonneau.
Holly Knowlman is a tea-loving Brit living in Toronto. She’s a writer, event inventor and digital communications professional. She enjoys many things including: noisy nights out, technology, contemporary art, adventures, her bike, soup, cider and trashy celebrity culture. Follow Holly on Twitter @HollyKnowlman or check out her blog.
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