AN INSTALLATION EXPERIMENT
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
(from A to B)
BY CYNTHIA O’BRIEN
Opening, August 16th and running until August 19th, 2007, Blink Gallery, Ottawa
I (…..your name…..) do understand that this art installation is an experiment and my participation is optional. I do understand that to participate I must walk and break unfired clay pieces under foot. While participating in this art installation, if any unforeseen occurrence happens to harm me, I will take full responsibility.
The public was asked to walk a straight path from one doorway to the next. While walking this path they crushed the clay stones into shards and shards into dust.
The Gallery floor was filled with soft curved stones made from raw red clay. These stones reflect the sandstones found on the coast of Prince Edward Island. A meandering white stone path (white line) moved from one doorway to the next.
The white line is not the shortest distance between the two points.
The public in choosing their shortest path from A to B had to think for themselves. The line given to the public to walk (a path of white stones among the red stones) was not a straight line or the shortest distance between the two points. Some of the public were visually obedient and walked that white path. Others created their own paths, some correctly choosing the shortest distance and others taking a longer path. Some of the public wontedly crushed stones.
We are taught to not touch while in a Gallery. In a crowd we shrink from being singled out and asked to participate. Yet when we do participate, we are energized by the challenge. This installation challenged the public, through their choices, their willingness to participate and their emotions. Most left the gallery elated by their experience.
My challenge in the end was to let go. I created the piece to be knowingly destroyed yet I was not prepared by my own strong emotional response. Yelling at two individuals who thought independently from my directions was both the low and high of the experiment. Art does not work without emotion and questioning. I created something that brought both to my attention.
With every participant crushing the stones underfoot, a new piece began to emerge. The soft fullness of the stones were broken down into large chunks, then into sharp flat pieces and finally ground dust. The textures of old tiled streets, parched earth and a well used path.
Blink Gallery / Ottawa / Summer 2007