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Proposal to Park: Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder

Aug 30, 2022 | Art

Proposal to Park: Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder

Proposal To Park Gibson And Recoder
14.GibsonRecoder MSP Collage2 2012
13. GibsonRecoder MSP Collage1 2012
3 GibsonRecoder ObscuraPavilion RenderingbyGerrard+Tan 2012
1 GibsonRecoder WaterTowerObscura RenderingbyAaronScottDesign 2012
4 GibsonRecoder MadSqArt InstallView1 PhotobyMSP 2013
12.GibsonRecoder MadSqArt InstallView7 PhotobyPeterGoldberg 2013

Proposal to Park is a new series focused on documenting the progression of project artists’ proposals into exhibitions for Madison Square Park Conservancy’s public art program.

Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder’s Topsy-Turvy was on view in the park in 2013. 

In their initial proposal, Gibson and Recoder included different versions of the camera obscura in Topsy-Turvy. Choosing the cylindrical chamber, the duo wished to “heighten the experience of visitors to the park by a simple shifting of our optical field of orientation.” The 10′ x 10′ camera obscura allowed park visitors to view an inverted version of the surrounding Flatiron neighborhood.

An interview with the artist is excerpted below:

Madison Square Park Conservancy: How did your proposal evolve to meet the demands of exhibiting in a public park?

Gibson and Recoder: As artists working in the field of expanded cinema, we were interested in developing a public art project for the Conservancy’s art program that would involve a projected light source of some kind. Initially we thought of installing a 35mm film projector and hiring a full-time projectionist to thread film into the projector without a take-up reel, so that by the end of the exhibition the park would be inundated by heaps of glistening celluloid. But alas, as with a number of other extravagant ideas, the film spill sketch was quickly scrapped.

As this was our first public art commission, we had to radically rethink the art of projection en plein air—that is, literally outside the black box convention of cinematic space. In our research, the projective articulation of natural light as witnessed in the ancient technique of the camera obscura offered a promising suggestion toward satisfying the demands of a public park exhibition while still operating within—and perhaps expanding—the field of expanded cinema.

MSPC: What surprised you most about exhibiting work in Madison Square Park?

G&R: We had no idea that Topsy-Turvy would be such an attraction for park visitors. On optimal viewing conditions (i.e. sunny days), there would be long lines of visitors eagerly awaiting their turn to be transported to a shadow realm inside the camera obscura viewing chamber. This made for a memorable departure from previous exhibitions at the park, as Topsy-Turvy encouraged visitors to experience the work by stepping into the interior of its immersive chamber. Dwelling within the work meant exiting the park while still remaining within the park. Hopefully viewers, especially regular park visitors, were able to better appreciate the beauty not only of their surroundings but of an inspiring public art exhibition program as well.

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