Waving

2015


‘Waving’ explores the role of body language in everyday communication with both physical and digital authority. Sited on a 47ft tall digital screen on the western facade of the Renaissance Hotel which parallels Rt. 70 and connecting downtown St. Louis with Lambert Airport, the piece presents a figure in a hands up position, a position recently synonymous with protests just a few miles from the screen’s location. The sculpture is created using Autodesk 123d Catch, a smartphone app which creates 3d representations of an original artifact by stitching a series of pictures taken in the round together. The resulting sculpture is at the same time anatomically accurate yet dramatically distorted. While it is obvious the figure is human, the details which signal individuality (the head and the hands) are drastically glitched, seemingly morphed or erased.

It is this blurring between individual and collective, past and future, static and transitional, digital and physical that the piece seeks to unpack. By allowing the software to distort the representation of a single person, the video sculpture comes to represent all of us. Its material is also transient; never fixed, it is both historic and futuristic, solid and porous, temporary and permanent. It provokes its audience, traveling both individually and communally on Rt. 70, to re-associate this posture into more familiar landscapes and experiences. By distorting the figure and its materiality away from any fixed state or representation the posture is becomes less representational and more formally articulated. It is the pose of a sleeping baby, a celebratory gesture at a sporting event, a welcoming signal of friendship, and the way we speak and identify with machines.

Positioned directly in the path from the airport to the city, the piece translates this tenuous symbol into a welcoming gesture of the city. It also registers the familiarity of this gesture to the collective community of its traveling audience as each traveler leaving the airport—regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status—was just recently positioned in this gesture in order to pass through security and arrive here in St. Louis. By shifting and dematerializing the person, the piece is a temporary reflection on community and connectedness in an age when authority and technology subconsciously dictates much of the way we experience the world.