I’ve been involved in a number of non-traditional efforts recently and not much posting bandwidth. Here, highlights of the summer.
Parks and Rec
In June I was invited to participate in the Headlands Center for the Arts “Hawk Hill Shelter Challenge.” This was a week-long workshop where our central challenge was to explore and conceive of a publicly-accessible “shelter” for an overlook above the Golden Gate Bridge.
The “team” was a variety of architects, artists, and most notably, a poet, where some participants signed up to come for their summer vacation. An interesting aspect of the workshop was the fact that a private, non-profit art center was pooling it’s conceptual talents to respond to a National Parks quandary typically addressed by RFP’s with architecture and landscape design firms.
The Challenge: Design a shelter for the site that takes into consideration: climate, current recreational and interpretive uses, protected species, and historic architecture. The resulting prototypes will feed into a formal proposal to the National Park Service for inclusion in its multi-year Hawk Hill Master Plan.
This was a wonderful, sometimes messy, yet very worthy experiment, and good for the Headlands for going there. A surprising finding for me was the presence of the poet in our midst. I’m convinced poets should be part of all design challenges. They have a way of ensuring the thread of the core goal. That is emotion, which is a central force in all human endeavors.
“However, the MAH camp’s tight focus around one of a museum’s central creative acts was for me, more inspirational. It supported a conclusion that I’ve come to (along with many others): museums need to get more adept at producing vs. protecting. Hosting a “hack” like this is a good way to practice production.”
We rarely, if ever, get to practice our craft in museums. So having a place that was safe, full of resources, practitioners from different backgrounds and implicit reward for risk taking meant everyone got to try something on for size. Be it ideas, craft, teamwork, etc.
Earlier in the summer, the Walker Art Center asked me if I’d like to make something for the 2nd Internet Cat Video Festival. At first I messed around with a cat meets museum concept such as a ‘Cat Curating Kit’. When I learned that it was to be held in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds stadium, that changed the challenge. The most logical response to people in such a spectacle, was well, to make a spectacle. The result (image top of post) was a video booth that roved the fairgrounds challenging fair-goers to imitate their cats:
FYI, the Walker produced a mini-documentary about this year’s fest. Maybe it will help you make sense of the phenomena. Maybe it’s just crazy.