Friday, May 4, 2007


The purpose of our project was to enhance a community space and promote interaction using mirrors. We trusted that the mirrors’ ability to create illusions would be interesting to work with. Initially, we talked about placing a tripod of mirrors in the middle of a busy walkway. People walking towards the tripod would be able to see their faces but the body of another person. We were told that although this might be interesting for the individual on his or her own, it would not spark any kind of interaction.

After that, my partner and I decided that we would have to create a space using these mirrors that would draw people in and experience this space with others which could possibly lead to some interaction. We built three stands to hold a 4.5’ x 1’ mirror each where the mirrors would be placed at eye level (about 5’8” center). We then would orient these stands in a semi-enclosed formation. Standing in this space was rather interesting because one could see various angles of him/herself as well as that of the other people in the space. It became very surreal and almost confusing.

At a project review we were told that it was precisely the kind of interaction needed, except it lacked something that would make the participants want to stay and enjoy it a little bit longer. We briefly discussed the idea of building attached benches until we realized that it would be better to use bench areas around campus. Because students are already used to those community spaces, they are more likely to participate in the installation. Placing these stands around seating areas required that the mirrors be lowered to sitting eye level. This was carried out as well.

The installation was set up outside of the Greene Building at RPI in a grassy bench area. Some of the students sitting around at the time agreed to participate in our project. They rather enjoyed the effect of the mirrors in the space and all agreed that the more spaced out they were, the more inviting the space was from the outside. The photographs demonstrate how the space was used and the different angles that could be viewed by the participants. Unfortunately, the full effect of the space cannot be experienced through the photographs.

Exposed: Part II

One of the biggest criticisms of the first iteration was that my partner and I did not experiment enough with the different spaces that could be accomplished using the mirrors. In this iteration, we created two different settings.
The first setting was done using one bench and enclosing it with the three mirrors as tightly as possible. Passer byers actually wanted to see what it looked like from the inside. They openly admitted that it was a little uncomfortable being exposed from every angle to these strangers. However, I was impressed at the success of this setting in that these strangers came closer together and actually sat and chatted for a while.
The second setting was done using two benches situated at right angles from each other, and the three mirrors oriented in a way that would capture the reflection of another mirror. It was interesting to see how, even with the participants sitting at a comfortable space from each other, they still felt extremely close to one another because the mirrors made it impossible to not see each other.
This project was successful in heightening the experience of someone casually sitting and talking with people. It was interesting to see their reactions which can be see in the pictures below. All in all, we had a great time working on this project.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Private Art vs. Public Art

Public Art: Sculpture by George Rickey

Location: Greene Building, Rensselar Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Rickey loaned this sculpture to RPI on a long term basis many years ago. It’s been said that one of the reasons he did this was because the person who engineered all of his sculptures was Roland Hummel who taught structures in the School of Architecture for many years. When Hummel retired, Rickey offered to sell the sculpture for a really good price. RPI at the time didn’t think it was necessary to buy it and declined the offer. Rickey then had the statue removed. When Dean Balfour joined RPI, he began a campaign to retrieve the sculpture. Unfortunately the original was long gone, but after some persuasion, Rickey agreed to build another one. The sculpture that stands there now was placed around 1999 or 2000.

I believe that this sculpture functions as a symbol for our School of Architecture. With its innovative and radical design, it embodies the way we are taught to design. Another topic that its history conjures is that the appreciation of non-conventional art has been growing. 13 years ago, RPI didn’t think twice about this sculpture, but eventually they realized the importance of it.

Public Art: Statue of Uncle Sam

Location: Downtown Troy

Troy’s claim to fame, so to speak, is that it is the hometown of Uncle Sam. (I think you should mention who Uncle Sam is) One can find references to Uncle Sam downtown more so than any other part of Troy. At this intersection alone, there is a statue, a bus stop, and a parking garage both named after him. Behind the statue is a recreation park and pavilion.

Much like a school uses their mascot for school spirit, I think that these monuments help to unite Troy and give it a sense of pride. Downtown Troy is rather infamous for the crimes that occur, and it isn’t exactly the safest place to be at night. Placing these monuments in this area is an effort to promote community activities in hopes of getting the trouble out of the streets (I would disagree – the monuments are markers of sites, commemorative of certain person or event and as you said to create a sense of pride rather than to promote activity. But I think you could comment on how Troy the spite being economically depressed or abandoned or poor (?) still has a lot of charm and historical references somehow reinforced by the statue – or something along those lines)

Private Art: Personal pictures in decorative frame

Location: My bedroom

Last class meeting we talked about whether or not photographs should be considered art. The topic could be argued infinitely. However, that is not what this picture is about. What is different about this picture is that the person that gave me this gift spent time in altering the original photographs to make a statement. On top of that, because the pictures came in the frame, it is to be analyzed as a whole package or presentation. This work of art speaks to me because it is personal. I doubt that anyone else will walk into my room and consider this a work of art. This is my definition of private art.

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

I chose to use photography as a way to portray the experience of the area. What is supposed to be a community space often feels abandoned and restrictive. Looking closer at the base of the Uncle Sam statue, one can see a quote by him stating "The big thing is not what happens to us in life - but what we do about what happens to us." Off to the side of the Uncle Sam statue is a war memorial. This monument adds to the somber feeling in the space. I thought that the quote mentioned above correlated with this memorial and personally, it brought forth a new outlook on the memorial, the space, and perhaps certain political issues that are being dealt with today.


What Happens to Us?

Ili Rojas

Public Art Seminar Spring 2007

The first poster was hung up on the bus station next to the memorial illustrated on the poster. This was conducted Saturday March 10, 2007. I tried to wait until the area wasn’t so crowded simply because I was getting suspicious looks. Once the poster finally went up, the few people that were there looked annoyed, as if I had somehow invaded their space. Because of this, I felt uncomfortable approaching them about this poster. The poster was still up when I passed by yesterday evening, Monday, March 12, 2007.

I waited until Monday morning, 10 am, to put the second poster up because it had been spring break and no one was on campus. I felt a lot more at ease putting this one up, and as soon as I did I was kindly approached by several students. They all knew this had to be done for a class, so I explained to them what the project was about. The most surprising response was when someone said they had never seen that memorial. Others said that the poster could come off as war protest.

My intent was to get people to think. Whether it sparks war issues, or even troy issues, this poster is bound to stir some kind of emotion. I think it was successful in doing just that. I especially like how, when hung up, my project became very real, very dramatic.