8 minutes

permanent public art installation for fire station 24, san jose, ca
client: city of san jose public art program

materials: led sign, ceramic tile w/ glazed-on photographs
size: led sign 40’x15”, 2 facades w/ tiles ±22’x30’
led sign fabricator: yesco
tile fabricator: tile artisans
photos: merge

our design consists of two parts – a call time archive and photographs & text snippets that explore the topic of the “emergency standard response time” – a time frame of eight minutes within which firefighters at this fire station have to arrive at any given emergency.

a led sign, connected to the alarm system of the fire station, was integrated into the facade above the fire engine bay. the led sign displays the last eight times the firefighters went on a call. every new emergency call activates the display – a narrow red strip moves across the display changing the background from white to yellow over an eight minute period. when the eight minute cycle is completed, the background color changes back to white, and the time of the most recent emergency is added to the display.

with the activation of the display the public is able to sense the abrupt change in speed of life at the fire station. the timeline becomes a continuously updated record of the firefighters workday, thus making their work more transparent to the public.

in the second part of the artwork, porcelain tiles with applied text and photographs were installed at the exterior entrance foyer of the fire station. these images and text pieces relate the notion of 8 minutes to everyday life outside the fire station.

27 text snippets describe events that typically occur over 8 minutes, some derived from science, others from popular culture or everyday experiences.

time-lapse photographs depict 8 minutes out of the everyday life of 30 local residents. each photograph is composed of 8 images taken from a fixed perspective with one exposure per minute. the background works as a still image while the person depicted follows his/her activities and appears as multiples on the image.

out of sight

shade canopy and seating for a light rail station, metro blue line, willow station, long beach, ca
client: los angeles county metropolitan transportation authority

materials: glass w/ photographic interlayer, steel, concrete w/ relief
size: 9’x30’x1’
structural engineer: brad w. smith
steel contractor: paragon steel
glass contractor: arch aluminum and glass
concrete contractor: quickcrete
willow photograph: alexandr bravo
photos: courtesy of metro © 2006 lacmta, merge

willow station is a busy light rail station along the metro blue line, which links the areas of los angeles and long beach. the premise for this project was the need for platform seating elements as well as a shade structure. the canopy structure utilizes existing pillars for support.

the focus of our artwork is a passenger’s experience when looking out of a train car: watching the passing landscape, a traveler can observe an object from far away, slowly coming close, then for a moment see it almost as a still, frontal image before it disappears out of sight. the memory of a moment can stay in the mind of the observer, almost like a photograph, but the actual image has passed.

in our design we are working with the quality of fleeting images, similar to one’s experience in travel. two photographic images appear on a folded canopy construction. through the special structure of the canopy only one fragmented image can be seen from either platform direction as it is approached. upon approaching there is one moment when one image becomes perfectly aligned and perceivable. upon passing this view point the second image comes into view and fragments the first image. from underneath the canopy both images are equally in view, breaking each other into stripes. the viewer standing right under the canopy also perceives a stretch distortion to the images.

the choice of images is a play on the present and past conditions encountered at the site: the “urban canopy” of the train cables as opposed to the “natural canopy” of the willow trees that once grew right there.

in addition to the canopy, two precast-concrete benches were installed. the benches are inscribed with text fragments which cue the user to the thought process behind the canopy: posing questions about one’s experience of travel and relating to the history of the site.

outside in

temporary public art installation at clover park, santa monica, ca
client: city of santa monica, commissioned as part of fresh art

materials: plywood, steel frames, photographic wallpaper
size: 5 houses, ±3’x4’x4’
art consultant: marc pally
fabrication: by artists
photos: merge

houses are the base units of our city. it is in our houses that we create our own miniature cosmos to define our place in the world. choosing to live close to each other we search for community, with each step moving further away from nature. but what happens to our longing for nature and open space in the urban environment?

a park is one way to substitute a nature experience in a city. on the other hand, our homes often contain decorative elements to reconnect us to nature. the highly idealized images in photographic wallpapers bring this experience into our living rooms. oral traditions such as songs, texts, and rhymes provide yet another way to connect us to nature.

in this installation we connected these manifestations of humanity’s desire for nature. we created five abstracted, identical house shapes and inhabited them with nature references. the inside of each house was wallpapered by one nature motif. regional legends, poems or songs on the plywood exterior of each house referred to the nature’s environment created inside the house.

the houses were installed in park areas adjacent to the playground. thus they became usable objects to touch and play with, dimensioned to fit children’s bodies.