2004 Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
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.