About the Exhibition
MetroTech ArtWorks is presented by the Public Art Fund, Inc., and sponsored by Forest City Ratner Companies and Commons Associates.
Dan Devine, The Secret of Las Meninas
Dan Devine has created a three-dimensional artwork that serves as a resting spot for those who use the grassy MetroTech Commons area. The sculpture is cast in concrete, on site, directly from an elaborate mold constructed of found objects collected from the area surrounding MetroTech Center. By recycling this refuse as sculptural material, these objects and their histories become revitalized as cultural artifacts. The completed work, taking its final form directly from the variety of objects employed in the mold, is a socially informed mass of urban archaeology—a record of activities, dreams, and desires of the community.
This work is installed alongside works by Brooklyn artists Stephen Rueckert and David Schafer. Laura Nash created an indoor installation in the lobby of One MetroTech Center.
Laura Nash, Condensation Chambers
Condensation Chambers by Laura Nash (b. USA) consists of six columns, installed on the grassy triangle. The layout of the columns in a grid echoes the layout of the surrounding trees, making the transition from the natural to the man-made.
Each of the columns is made up of an inner and outer container. The outer chamber is partially filled with a pale green, cloudy liquid (a mixture of antifreeze and other elements). The liquid condenses on the inside surface of the outer chamber. In the inner chamber is a tube of argon blue neon, which lights up the steam and liquid in the outer chamber. From the outside one sees a constant fluctuation of steam and droplets of pale green lit up from within by a pale blue light. The rate of condensation will be affected by the outside changes in sunlight and temperature.
Each column stands seven feet above ground level and they are spaced in rows about 14’ apart. The columns are made of thick acrylic plastic. The lighting is industrial neon, such as is used in outdoor signs, and will remain lit day and night. The liquid element is permanently sealed and contained.
Each column seen on its own is like viewing an ongoing experiment of the interaction between natural elements and processes (condensation), and the technological containment, distillation, and lighting. Surrounded by the six columns viewers might feel as though they were an element inside a transistor, or that they were in a forest of test tubes.
Stephen Rueckert, ON-ON-ON
ON-ON-ON is a work of art that celebrates the beauty of science and technology. It is designed to simulate the same sense of wonder, curiosity, and delight that we get when we glimpse into the cockpit of an aircraft and see all the fascinating switches and dials, or when we look inside a piano and discover the incredibly intricate sounding mechanism: that feeling of “Wow! What’s all this?” The lights, switches, and the vast array of tactile materials and shapes of science and technology have a universal appeal: ON-ON-ON plays off these materials and explores this aspect of the relationship between man and machine.
ON-ON-ON consists of four consoles, or work-stations, arranged in a grid, each one possessing its own unique composition of materials. One is “see-through,” built out of half-inch Plexiglas, and housing solar panels that supply power to the rest of the system. This workstation has a “high-tech” look.
The second is cast of cement with its interior section completely lined with colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs), placed approximately 1” apart on all four surfaces, imbedded in the cement and powered by the solar panels in the first module. This section is inspired by the concept of a geode, which is a stone that is cementitious on the exterior and jeweled with crystals on the interior.
The third is built out of the exterior-grade marine plywood used in boat-building, and varnished like the mahogany or dark oak on a boat. It has the feeling of antique scientific equipment, thematically relating to the concept of a “time machine” of an as-of-yet uninvented dream machine, which could possibly transport us to landmarks of “Old” Brooklyn or into an imaginary future. This unit has a slot or “mail drop” incorporated into it, labeled “Future Dreams,” through which the viewer can participate by writing down his or her express wishes for the future, and depositing them into the sculpture. The various switches, dials, and labels in this unit guide the viewer into this activity, using writing equipment attached to and supplied within the consol.
The fourth unit has an inner construction made of galvanized sheet metal, lined with toggle switches 1” apart on all four surfaces. The outside walls are open and resemble an airplane wing construction with wires and struts. This will enable the viewer to look inside to the back of the toggle switch assemblies, which are wired together with brightly colored wires. The back of this beautifully structured unit, also constructed like an airplane wing, can be seen through the Plexiglas unit next to it.”
David Schafer, New Century Trellis
For his work New Century Trellis, David Schafer (b.1955, Kansas City, MO) explained, “The public arena created by MetroTech Center recalls the public space of the 19th century. The court house, city hall, and town church have been replaced by a university, a banking institution, and corporate office buildings. The desire for an active and functioning public space is an integral binder for the catalyst of commerce, education, and business.”
New Century Trellis functions somewhere between a site marker and a monument at the center of the square. Sited in the center of MetroTech Commons, New Century Trellis encourages viewers to walk around the perimeter of the space in order to read a pair of quotes collaged upon it. One quote is drawn from a brochure that explains the premise and concept of MetroTech Center: “Leaders of the new century—today.” This inspiring and confident motto not only marks the site but recalls something of the era of World Fairs. World Fairs were a way to view American culture of the 20th century, a model of American society. The language demonstrates the strength and mythology of the American dream. They were to represent man and community in harmony with their environment.
In smaller type is another quote about public space. Frederick Law Olmsted, in his notes about Fort Greene Park, located near the MetroTech complex, speaks about the positioning of the Martyrs’ Monument in the center of the park’s square. “For refreshing purity of air and beauty of prospect, the central part of the square, is beyond question, to be preferred.” Olmstead’s quote reveals his intentions of wanting to furnish healthful recreation. His parks and public spaces encouraged one to escape the incessant pace of the urban grid. He inspired civic patriotism, and his parks were a means of instilling principles of stability and social reform. The two quotes are positioned in such a manner that both can be read at the same time while walking around the MetroTech Commons. The collaged texts are seen as a 3’ x 75’ circumference ellipse that is literally suspended 20’ above the ground by a steel pipe and cable structure.
This work is installed alongside works by Dan Devine and David Schafer. Laura Nash created an indoor installation in the lobby of One MetroTech Center North.