Dr Sally Butler on Best Practice in Public Art

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Dr Sally Butler, Lecturer in Art History at University of Queensland presenting on Best Practice in Public Art.

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Dr Sally Butler on Best Practice in Public Art

  1. 1. Museum & Gallery Services Queensland art+place regional seminar Best Practice in Public Art by Dr Sally Butler Senior Lecturer in Art History, The University of Queensland © Sally Butler, Brisbane, February 2010.
  2. 2. NOTES AND WEBSITES: http://www.cezarystulgis.com - Website of Brisbane artist Cezary Stulgis Best practice in contemporary public art not defined by themes, media or styles Trying to second-guess what is ‘hot’ in contemporary climate of escalated change only impinges on artists’ creativity With the enormous diversity of contemporary culture, the real question is what is the ‘public’ of public art today? Artworks such as the public art sculptures by Brisbane artist Cezary Stulgis appeal to a very specific kind of public in a very specific place - contemporary people working in contemporary environments. The naked human figures of Stulgis’ art adopt a different pose to that of artworks that stood in the public spaces of Renaissance Italy. The heroism of Michelangelo's David appealed to a very different kind of public to the people who circulate around the Stulgis’s sculptures Today.
  3. 3. Understanding the key terms of a very specific kind of contemporary public Assists in the wording of public art grant applications. Adopting a ‘Key term’ strategy to identify key terms of your project helps to Explain the function of your public art in its particular ‘place’. Terms such as: Integrated Interactive Interpersonal Urban renewal Environmental sustainability Help to explain how an artwork functions in its space Successful grant applications are written by wordsmiths who can craft the idea of their artwork in words, before it has been visually realised.
  4. 4. Artists such as Virginia King create a formal language of a specific place By enhancing the idea of ‘what happens here?’ Her artworks incorporate the ‘elements’ of being outdoors as the ‘elements’ of her artwork. They reflect the rhythms and moods of the time of day, the Site, and the climate and situate the public within a relationship between the natural and built environments. www.womensartregister.org/stat-virginia-king Website of New Zealand-based artist Virginia King
  5. 5. “ Nervous System is an interactive electronic artwork by Sydney-based artist and programmer John Tonkin. Commissioned for South Broadwater Parkland by Gold Coast City Council, the work consists of 20 stainless steel posts which responsively emit coloured lighting and sound. The programmed light and sound interface reacts to movement, light levels, sound and temperature within each work, while also being transmitted among the group. Reactions from one work can trigger larger responses from the whole group. In this way the work responds to environmental conditions while also itself behaving as an environment. Some of Nervous System’s behaviours may also be emergent as the program plays and ‘evolves’ over time – a smart artwork for a new generation! “ Reprinted from website above. http://www.brecknockconsulting.com.au/02_public%20art/urban_art/sbp.htm Website for commission by Sydney-based artist John Tonkin Sydney-based artist John Tonkin is producing smart art for a smart public. His poles (see left) are public art located at the Gold Coast that act as open-ended signs – the message and the information are completed when the audience interacts with the art. New technology in multi-sensory communication is allowing the visual to be integrated with sound, touch, and human movement. This technological innovations also allow the possibility of a closer relationship between public art and public information signage – exploring the world of creative information technology for creative Information communication.
  6. 6. Joshua Callaghan has produced artworks that provide artistic solutions to public space problems, such as the ugly but necessary presence of public utilities such as garbage bins, and transformer boxes. His concept of covering these units with digitally printed vinyl paintings makes them virtually disappear and instead we see the beauty of art’s illusionism. http://www.joshuacallaghan.com/ Website of LA based artist Joshua Callaghan http://www.specifier.com.au/pastissues/38610/The-NEW-Green-Wall.html Website about Beijing’s Green Wall public artwork Public art like the Green Wall rely on solar panels for their energy and implicitly promote the idea of renewable Energy and environmental sustainability at the same time as providing a platform for large-scale video art and Software-based artworks that respond to changes in the environment.
  7. 7. http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2007/aitken/ Website for Doug Aitken’s public artwork in New York. “ In January and February of 2007, the Los Angeles-based video artist Doug Aitken projected a new work, commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art and the New York arts institution Creative Time, onto seven facades on and around MoMA's fabled West Fifty-third Street building. Sleepwalkers was both inspired by, and offered in opposition to, the densely built midtown environment; it integrated itself onto the surfaces on which it was projected, and it challenged viewers' perceptions of architecture and public space. The piece, which follows the trajectories of five characters as they make their way through nocturnal New York, explores Aitken's key recurring themes: broken and recombined narratives, the rhythm and flow of information and images, and the relationship of individuals to their environment. The viewer, as a pedestrian, a participant and a vital component of New York's energetic system, becomes part of the work, and of the interactive personal landscape that Aitken creates in and among the hard-edged concrete and glass language of Manhattan's architecture.” Excerpt from above website The beautiful public artwork by LA-based Doug Aitken is a film projection laid across the surfaces of by-passing pedestrian traffic. It is about the busy pedestrian public of New York city as much as it is for them, and in this regard achieves what our contemporary public most desires of its public art – it personalises the public spaces of everyday human experience and diminishes the anonymity of contemporary life.

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