In San Francisco, many telephone poles are blanketed with staples and bits of paper- the remains of garage sale posters. The bits form a thick crust, rusting together over the wood. I love the way they suggest a history of information that was communicated publicly. For years, I kept thinking that somehow, I wanted to create a piece that would have that history...but how?
Finally, I started googling 'telephone poles'. Please understand that I'm old enough to remember researching through the library card catalog, so now, being able to sit here and have all the information in the world literally at my fingertips...this is miraculous. No matter how obscure the subject, I can find information AND IMAGES! and I can download them. And I love the weird way the information sometimes slides sideways a bit from where I was trying to go. Typing in 'San Francisco telephone poles' it told me about a type of bird that pecks holes in telephone poles and stores acorns in there, then leaves one bird on guard.
But I played around, typing in other words, until I came across Morris columns. These were invented in the 1800's as a way to keep people from gluing flyers on buildings (they were invented by the German printer Ernst Litfaß, but an advertiser named Morris got the name-credit). And then we had kiosks. If you google 'kiosk' you'll see all sorts of interactive stations, but the original kiosks were round columns for the dissemination of information (this was before we had telephones and telephone poles). In parts of Europe you can still see them on the street.
Of course, the idea of putting information on a column goes back to the carved stone Roman commemorative columns, and Chinese steles. I decided to make a column. A column which would be a visual argument about our public and private information. What do we disclose and what do we keep secret? Is anything secret anymore?
At the local Goodwill store, I bought lots of gray sweaters and woolen jackets. Washed and deconstructed to harvest clothing parts - sleeves, lapels, fronts and back, pockets. Then I went to my collection of 3D letters. Many of these are the old plastic alphabet letters that parents of small children have on their refrigerators. Others come from craft stores, where you can buy sheets of 1/8 inch cardboard alphabets. And from garage sales and ordered online, and anyplace else I can find letters. I arranged words on wool backing, glued them down, covered them with sections of gray clothing, and sewed. I love the incongruity of hand-sewing children's letters to spell out 'internet persona'.
You may notice that the plastic letters on this one have only outlines, which allows me to sew inside the letters, creating a negative form. See, if you take the plastic letters, and clamp them down, you can saw them in half...
...and then you have the back part, which is an outline of the letter.
Tomorrow, how this all came together into an 8ft tall kiosk .