The Temporary Nature of Ideas was a large-scale, four-story, interactive rooftop installation featured at the 2009 Transmodern Festival. In action for the three nights of the festival, the installation grew as participants (patrons of the festival) added their own elements using provided materials.
Photographed by Edward Winter.
A sign on the wall read:
"Participants are encouraged to use the provided materials to make an object in honor of an unexplored or abandoned idea. They are invited to create a special tribute to this idea, once alive in thier mind's eye, but now retired and unrealized. When they finish the object is sent downward on a pulley into the space, where it is placed lovingly amidst the growing landscape."
Each participant's "idea object" was re-appropriated into the installation by costumed performers Melissa Webb and Theresa Columbus, who were stationed inside the installation for the duration of the festival. Roving costumed performers, Spoon Popkin and Lee Sinowski roamed the 4 floors of the festival, encouraging festival-goers to make an object in order to take part in the piece.
This is the first of two incarnations of "The Temporary Nature of Ideas", mounted at the 2009 Transmodern festival in a four story light well at the H&H building. It was on a rooftop surrounded by windows, which festival goers could peer down from to observe the space.
When I lived in the Whole Gallery on the third floor of the H&H years ago, I would stare into that space and dream about transforming it in some way. When the festival started happening in that building, I began to consider the space seriously.
To prepare for the piece I engaged in a series of visualizations where I would picture myself in the space and let thoughts come into my mind randomly. Ideas flowed in and out, sometimes very specific and sometimes vague, but nothing really stuck. So many solid ideas were literally meandering in and out of focus right in front of my eyes, only to be disregarded, and that is how the concept for the "The Temporary Nature of Ideas" came about.
I decided to let my intuition lead me and trust myself as a conduit- to make the actual piece in the same way that someone might do stream of consciousness writing. I just let things flow naturally. I wanted to make my artmaking process one of exploration rather than the straightforward execution of an idea. It was a scary process to let go of a solid idea for a space of that size and work intuitively, but in the end I felt that it was successful. It was a great lesson for me, and a perfect way for me as a solo artist to reestablish an intimate relationship with materials.
By adding the participatory element I asked people to consider ideas they have had that are still accessible to them, but have never been realized. I wanted people to celebrate an idea as an entity all of its own.
The original piece at Transmodern, and the one I created in 2010 at School 33 are very distinct from one another. The first time, people made their objects on the third floor and lowered them down on pulleys to the performers, who then incorporated the objects into the environment. Participants were not allowed to enter the space, which was on a rooftop, and it was decided, reasonably so, that it would be dangerous, or damaging to the roof to let multiple people down there. Both incarnations had / have their own individual feel to them- I loved the site-specific nature of the first one, the fact that it was originally a kind of grimy and gloomy looking space that was so drastically transformed by the installation and the objects people contributed. There was a certain drama and sense of danger of looking down from a sixth-story window into the space. It took place at night, and lighting which created giant shadows was a huge element in the overall look. At School 33, participants can immerse themselves physically into the space and choose the placement of their objects. There is also a longer time frame so folks can spend as much time as they like in the space and contribute multiple times. I see the two as distinct scenarios, but at the same time, the sculptural elements Temporary Nature are componential, and could work in many different types of settings.