Karolina Sobecka's WILDLIFE
by Deke Weaver — School of Art & Design, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
March 28, 2011 – 00:00
I’m a sucker for spectacle. I used to work near Times Square. They wrapped videoscreens completely around 745 Seventh Avenue. Imaginary Forces designed the project. The screens changed everything around them – the sidewalks, the buildings, my walk to the subway and the faces of the tourists around me. All of it was gorgeous but, at the bottom-line was the bottom-line. “The signage and 24-hour content that we created … is a living, branded surface…” The screens were selling the building and what was in the building: Morgan Stanley.
How about some non-commercial spectacle? I love Doug Aitken’s Sleepwalkers. I love Krysztof Wodiczko’s big projection projects involving communities – making architecture and neighborhoods speak. But these are not cheap undertakings and they are not flying under the radar. Good for them. Big projections and screens need big money – just a single video projector is not cheap for those without institutional support. Video projectors with powerful lamps are much more expensive to rent.
My punk-rock heart is always looking for something else. Karolina Sobecka’s WILDLIFE is “a projection from a moving car onto buildings in the city. The tiger’s movements are programmed to correspond to the speed of the car: as the car moves, the tiger runs along it speeding up and slowing down with the car, as the car stops, the tiger stops also.” I like the movement of the piece, I like that she takes an ephemeral medium and makes it even more fleeting, even more difficult to pin down – like the animal itself – adapting to new habitats, shifting size, speed and strength. From a DIY perspective I love that she didn’t wade through oceans of permissions and lakes of bureaucracies and floods of public opinion. My one wish for WILDLIFE is that Sobecka had used a mountain lion or a jaguar instead of a tiger - some large cat semi-native to Los Angeles. Combining a tiger with a car - it’s hard to not think about Exxon. All the same, I wish I had seen WILDLIFE in the street.
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