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The practice of listening defines my work. Every piece begins for me with a period of
listening, observation, study and reflection. Many of my pieces are in some sense
portraits or documentaries, and here listening has an evident role. Other projects,
such as Spin (2003) are more abstract than representational, but even with these,
attention to sound and to basic patterns of call and response is central.
In September, 2003, I received a commission from the Minneapolis
Public Library to develop a public artwork for their New Central
Library. The library is designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates; it is
currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2006. The
library's commission calls for a project that will use light to
"enhance the public's experience of the library."
My goal in this work is to create a place where visitors can
experience the library as a living ecosystem where books, ideas, and
people flow through, exchanging and transacting with each other.
Books and periodicals are constantly being taken down from shelves and
re-shelved, checked out and returned, searched for and found, acquired
and de-acquisitioned. As with earlier works I've made, such as
Listening Post (2002), 917: a code without an area (2000), and Passing
Through (1996), this piece will be concerned with the movements and
dynamics of people and ideas within a specific information system.
A library is a place alive with text, some of it sleeping between the
pages of shelved books, some of it at play in the minds of readers,
some of it at work in electronic card catalog inquiries, lending
system transactions, and so on. My piece will explore ways in which
these words can be captured on the fly and channeled through an
artwork that will reveal the way that words are coursing through the
veins of the library. My aspiration is to make a piece that will
evoke the ways that language passes through the consciousness of those
reading in the library, not unlike the interior voices heard by the
angel in Wim Wenders' film Wings of Desire as he walks through the
quiet library in Berlin.
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