Light installation at Cabrini-Green to mark demolition of final building

Amidst news of Target’s interest in building a store on the former site of the Cabrini-Green housing project, the Chicago Tribune reports that there is a special light installation at the last building to be demolished (and whose last resident left several months ago):

Marked for demolition beginning Wednesday is the last-standing building of the infamous Cabrini-Green public housing complex. But thanks to a light installation orchestrated by artist Jan Tichy, the structure at 1230 N. Burling St. will remain aglow with 134 white LED lights — one installed in each of its vacated apartments — for the four-week duration of its razing. The light installation was completed Monday, in time for Tichy and the Chicago Housing Authority to flip the “on” switch at 7 p.m.

Here is more information on the project from the gallery that represents Tichy:

From January to March 2011, together with over 20 students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Tichy held two and three-day workshops with local youth at Cabrini Connections, Marwen, After School Matters Creative Writing Program at Gallery 37 and ThaBrigade Stamps – Cabrini Green Marching Band. In the workshops, students were introduced to public art and light art, and brainstorming sessions and group activities were held on the concepts of Home, Public Housing, Community and Demolition. The youth were then charged with the task of writing poems or texts that addressed the concepts above. Employing a computer program developed by SAIC students that translates sound into light, the youth performed their texts for recording, creating unique light patterns. These light patterns define each of the 134 LED lights at the high-rise. Thus, the youth’s voices literally “tell” their stories through light.

As a component of Project Cabrini Green, live-feed footage from the site will be projected at the Museum of Contemporary Art at street-level, on the corner of Pearson and Mies Van der Rohe streets behind the museum’s glass façade, thereby rendering it visible at night. A voice/light-activated model of the high-rise will accompany the installation, and the youth participant’s written texts and audio content will be available. Tricia Van Eck, Associate Curator, is the organizing curator of the installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The youth’s texts, the audio content, and the live-feed video will also be available on the project website.

Read more about the project in the New York Times or at Project Cabrini Green.

I wonder if there are plans for a more permanent exhibit or marker of the public housing project.

Trying to give people warm feelings about traffic tickets

I think it is safe to say most people don’t like receiving traffic or moving violation tickets. Could there be a way to help people feel better about receiving these tickets? Cambridge, Massachusetts is trying to improve the image of driving tickets:

But the city of Cambridge, Mass., is looking to cultivate a Zen-like demeanor among parking offenders with the New Age-themed tickets it’s handing out these days.

“It’s trying to debunk the idea that all parking tickets are a hostile action, because I don’t think they are,” Susan E. Clippinger, the city’s transportation chief, told the Boston Herald.

According to the Herald, the parking ticket makeover in Cambridge — home to Harvard and MIT — is part of public art project by the city’s artist-in-residence, Daniel Peltz. In addition to the 40,000 new parking tickets Cambridge printed, the city is incorporating mood-enhancing imagery in its approach to parking enforcement, as the Herald notes: “There are new street signs explaining traffic rules in offbeat ways; ‘10,000 Excuses,’ a mural of excuses given by ticketed drivers; and plush, stuffed ‘soft-boots’ to give the ultimate parking penalty a warmer, fuzzier feel.”

An interesting program. One thing that may work in their favor: changing up the signage and typical protocol might shake people out of their complacent driving behaviors.

What about trying another tact: framing the tickets as part of a larger campaign of public safety. Could drivers be placated a little if the tickets came with an explanation about how driving within/at the rules saved lives, injuries, and money (and tax dollars)? This would give the often solitary activity of driving a more communal focus: we need people to obey the traffic laws and regulations to help everyone get where they need to go safely. If you break the rules, it is not a “victimless crime.”

California Picture #4

Public art on a grand scale. This 60-foot piece, titled Cupid’s Span, opened to the public in 2003 and was designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.  Read more about it here.

(My wife and I traveled to California for nine days in early July – this is part of a series of pictures from our trip.)