Pat Shannon

Street Work (para-sites)
Boston and Somerville 2010-2014

This ongoing body of work started with the impulse of an idea --- if you want your work to be relevant to the world, why not make it out in the world?  So, with that premise and a wish to address issues of locality in the face of today’s global culture I considered: What could be more local than the streets of the place where you live?

The geographer Yi-Fu Tuan talks about the effect of our senses in forming a personal experience of space and place. Vision is vast, hearing is wide, smell is adjacent and touch is the most intimate sense. Why not choose a site and literally feel my way across it…know someplace by touching it and in the process generate a tactile record of both the activity and the place. In other words, produce a recording where the performative dimension of making becomes inscribed in the art object.

I wanted to produce a different type of landscape image and like traditional landscape painters of the past, I sought to immerse myself in a chosen location. I ended up turning my attention to a pedestrian crosswalk and a parking space. I was attracted to the fact that they are clearly marked and designated for a particular purpose, they are regulated for shared use and they have time limits that govern how long someone can use them - so by nature they are transitory sites.

For a few years, a crosswalk and parking space have been my plein air workplace. Using multi-gauge aluminum sheets and a variety of tools as recording devices, I’ve been gathering detailed impressions of these areas of streetscape. I started out looking for an alternative way to image the urban environment, yet the making phase of this project, which required time spent working in the street, began to raise questions related to labor and artistic production.

The next phase of the cycle was to bring the streets indoors and reassemble the impressions to make a representation of the original site. Unlike the original places, these recordings lack color. Instead, they rely on the material qualities of aluminum to render a frank pictorial description on a 1:1 scale. I’m interested in how these final “place objects” function as mediators between our experiences of indoor and outdoor space.
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