The Spacebubble Event – Interactive Media Blog Post
By Matthew Alan Lester…It’s MAL-time 🙂
This Saturday, October 21, 2017, New York City’s Central Park played host to the Spacebuster, a gorgeously dented step van that houses the art project, “We Like America” (2017), at an event in conjunction with “Storefront for Art and Architecture”. This event is apart of the “New Icon-i-Cities” exhibition, which is also a part of the ongoing exhibition “Souvenirs: New New York Icons”. The event celebrates fifty years of Public Art in NYC Parks where participants could take part in a number of activities designed involve people in the creation of art. I, myself created a small collage from four different printouts, as the rules for the specific part of the event I contributed to, asked for each artist to select several images from various stacks of paper and then cut, draw or otherwise change the original image, after which the contributor could then create a collage from the altered pieces of artwork. Upon completion of the collage, the contributor could then tape the “icon” onto the Spacebuster bubble’s interior wall. The last step instructs the attendee to snap a photo and then post it to instagram, facebook and/or other forms of social media. This is the collage that I created and posted to instagram, as well as, Facebook:
The New Icon-i-Cities project asks attendees to “imagine new icons for our cities? How do we find new ways to represent the identity of a place? How would you design a new icon for your neighborhood?” The project provides more than 1,000 images taken in the last week for contributors to create their own new icon for our city. I tried to think about what New York City means to me. It’s a lonely city, for me, in a lot of ways, I feel a bit like a fish-out-of-water and that hasn’t really changed much since I relocated to the area in 2013, but I’m okay with that, mostly. I’ve gotten used to going places solo, because I often have difficulty getting folks out-and-about with me to the types of events, exhibitions and so on that I find interesting. Some of that, I’m sure, is the hassle of travelling in, and around, New York City’s whose spaghetti style subway system often closes down random lines of the weekend, contributing to travel time and leading to, sometimes, two hour treks between burroughs. Of course, part of my isolated experience in New York City, is also my own nature, where I like to be spontaneous and just see which way the wind carries me. That often means opening my front door and just walking in some random direction on the days where I get to take an adventure.
The image that I came up with, it is taken from four other images which when altered and added to one another’s overall image form a collage that I feel represents, somewhat, my own experience of living in New York City. I chose a solo adventurer, small, as I myself was in youth and still am today, facing a stairway that leads up into the head of a great monster, from whose mouth a great hail of umbrellas bellows forth. It seems like a funny collage, and it is, but it means something to me and I hope it also means something to those that walk past where it is taped inside the bubble today. There is mixture of wonder, hope, despair and so much more that comes from living in New York City and this simple collage captures some of the complexity of emotions that I often find myself wrapped in while living in this densely populated city.
I found myself looking at the collage I had taped to the inside of the Spacebubble and thinking that it is perfectly fitting to my own experience and viewpoint, even in its simplicity. I love graffiti, street art, and public art in general and this is represented. I also like stairs and I find myself contemplating their meaning in regards to various belief systems, myths and stories. As for umbrellas, well, who doesn’t like an umbrella at the right time and place? The solo figure, well, that is me, or others like me, alone and facing a foreboding world. It’s me at the beginning of a choose-your-own-adventure book, deciding what direction Saturday should take me, where I might journey? Will I go into the lower east side, to the place where the hounds reside, breathing fire and bellowing snarls and snaps. Perhaps to the the northwestern reaches beyond the edges of paradise rectangle? To the place where the clowns always put on their shows, so often evoking laughter and happiness in audiences. Perhaps I should venture into the belly of the golden dragon where red lanterns always burn bright from the balconies overhanging so many streets? Should I go instead to the very deep south, where the ancient shard has awoken, raising before it a crystal tower,the likes of which the world has never seen before? This is the city in which I live, it’s not just buildings and streets, it’s more than that, much more. New York City always seems to offer me new discoveries, new places, new people, if I choose to engage with them, and so much more. The icon I created, for me, it speaks about the identity I hold within this place, New York City, where I am so often a lone adventurer seeking whatever it is that resides at the end of the staircase. There are always monsters along the way and it was necessary to incorporate both the monsters and the tools one might use to overcome obstacles of the city. Identity, it’s tricky, but I think the collage that I contributed shows, at least, an impression I have of the identity in the city in conjunction with my own view of the city’s identity.
The creation of not only my own icon, but also seeing so many other icons created by th various visitors to the Spacebubble, it evoked from my memory Anna Notaro’s “Technology in Search of an Artist: Questions of Auteurism/ Authorship and the Contemporary Cinematic Experience”. Inside the Spacebubble, on the walls, so many people have taped icons, image representations of their idea of what icon best represents the identity of this city, that we all reside within. So many different views contributing to a much larger artistic work. The Spacebubble becomes a collective work of art through the efforts of so many people, much like a film often does, perhaps a representation of the “garden of forking paths”, as referred to by Notaro. Perhaps, the Spacebubble is a type of Hyperfiction, which “seems to semantically represent the looseness of the signifier-signified relation as the multiple narrative lines subvert any control by the reader and undermine the author’s power to fix all contexts and therefore all meanings of the text sequences” (Notaro, 86). The Spacebubble could be said to be doing just this through each participant’s use of icons to represent identity. Indeed, the narrative shown on the walls of the Spacebubble is also non-linear, there is no clear beginning or end. One could start searching at any point inside the Spacebubble for the views offered by folks about identity. This evokes what Notaro has said about interactivity being new, or linear, “for some commentators all the hype about interactivity as the new narrative is absurd: narrative never was linear, so to proclaim the discovery of non-linear narrative is absurd. In the same vein interactivity has always been a feature of any representational media, from religious rituals to painting, novels and cinema” (Notaro, 95). Indeed, as I walked around that bubble looking at the various icons on display representing people’s ideas of identity, is the art placed on that artificial wall so different from the art carved into cave walls thousands of years ago. We are still people searching for meaning through our works creativity. We create, we try to understand, and then we start the process over again.
And the article that inspired my visit: https://www.timeout.com/newyork/blog/a-giant-bubble-is-coming-to-central-park-this-weekend-101817
Additional awesome images below:
Notaro, Anna. “Technology in Search of an Artist: Questions of Auteurism/ Authorship and the Contemporary Cinematic Experience”, Velvet Light Trap, 22 Mar. 2006, pp. 86–97.