In my artwork I ask viewers to create new spaces. Participation is central. Where these viewer-defined spaces intersect with the perceived boundaries and architectures of our built environment, I locate the meaning being made in my work.
I go beyond asking viewers to imagine a new space within existing architecture, and ask them to engage their body in experiencing it: a viewer moves her body at half its normal speed to synchronize the pace of a neighborhood street with the pace of the water flowing in a nearby river, or climbs a hill in a gallery to explore her vertical mobility within Chicago’s built environment.
Through participation, viewers bridge the gap between thought experiment and lived experience. In Along Water Miles I invited viewers to walk at the same pace as the water flowing in the Calumet River (about one mile an hour) on a route that took them out of the gallery and to the actual headwaters of the river. As part of a group show addressing environmental and public health issues caused by industry along the river, the piece used the protracted movement of the human body to engender a more concrete connection to the actual body of water at the center of the issues.
In Along Water Miles, as in other works, I ask viewers to project a new space and then to physically occupy it. Their experiences are made concrete because the parameters of my projects are set using known quantities taken from our daily lives: the speed of a river, the hours of a municipal park, the elevation of the ground we stand on. Each piece is an invitation for participants to embody these quantities, to more fully understand phenomena that are familiar and measurable, but never entirely experienceable. My projects are both romantic gestures and real experiments in altering the space around us. Participation becomes research into the architectures of our institutions and our communities, and how they might be altered.