Monday, March 20, 2006
Here are some views of a terrific site specific installation, titled Flying Carpet, by the Iranian artist Seyed Alavi. It's fifty miles of the Sacramento River, or at least aerial photographs of it, woven onto a walkway bridge at Sacramento International Airport. A beautiful pairing for sure.
And then the lights come on: why not use less arcadian, more politically charged satellite images as well?
Fifty miles of the US-Mexico border fence, for instance. Or fifty miles of the San Andreas Fault coated onto an actual vehicular bridge, say, a Calatrava. Or fifty miles of Fisk's Mississippi or the future underwater trenches of the Arbonian Sea inside the corridors of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Or how about fifty miles of the Israeli security barrier inside perhaps this very brave synagogue.
Or even less as a sanctioned work of public art and more as a mode of political dissent: the bombed out shell of the al-Askari Mosque unfurled on sites heavily trafficked by Halliburton executives; the scarred landscapes surrounding an African diamond mine on the sidewalks of Antwerp's Hoveniersstraat or New York's 47th Street; the parched terrain of Mexico City during that city's ongoing 4th World Water Forum.
TerraServer appropriated as a guerilla tactic. Google Maps as acts of civil disobedience.
I can certainly imagine scenarios in which disaffected but still idealistic students in dorm rooms or co-ops or in a badly-lit cafe preparing for a rally the following day. Seated on mismatched vintage chairs, they enter long strings of longitude and latitude coordinates into TerraServer, all abstract sets of numbers but potentially worldchanging. Then a westward, eastward, northbound, southbound scopic drive all through the night in a drone of mouse clicks. Reading the landscape, strategizing with geography. Click. Click. Click. Icarus as an anarchist. And then, with their downloaded patches of terrestrial ecologies stitched together on Photoshop, they head on out to Kinko's for a late night print run, hoping against all hope that the plotters are working.
Rosemary Laing and the Marvelous