"I Looked Up To The Screen Above"
I have an opportunity to put up a huge photograph on the rooftop of the Lillstreet art center. This would be visible from the CTA train station and from the street in the surrounding neighborhood.
The image is a photograph of the sky that I rephotographed on a smartphone screen through a microscope. It's part of a series of photographs that I've been making as a response to the ways that our smartphones and the ubiquity of screens change the ways that we engage with the world. I've made prints of this work before at increasing scale, but it's been increasingly clear this work needs to be big and able to be viewed at a distance.
I've been given a one month residency on the Lillstreet rooftop, so this is my chance to go big.
Lillstreet has had this rooftop residency for a few years, and in the past people have put up flags from the flagpoles, generally around 3' x 4'. My plan is a bit more ambitious: I want to put up a single continuous banner that is 50' x 8'. We're all excited to try something big and bold that will be impossible to miss from the neighborhood. The banner will be up for a month.
One of the interesting things about these photograph is that they are legible image from a distance, but an abstract assortment of pixels up close. Counterintuitively, the photograph changes when viewed through a cameraphone - the pixels disappear, the information is compressed, and the low-res image becomes legible once again.
I can say all sorts of art theory type things about this project too, about how photography lives on the screen, about how recorded images are more important than things we experience first-hand, about the work's relation to Hito Steyerl and the "poor image," about how simulations replace our experience of reality, and so on, but really the reason I want to do this is that this is going to be a big beautiful piece of public art that is going to grab thousands of commuters and lift their eyes to the sky. What could be more awesome?
Funded by Chicago, IL (May 2015)