Babel Amidst an Arising: A Juried Installation within a Southeastern Art Festival
South Regional IDEC Conference Tallahassee, Florida 2014
Narrative:Babel Amidst an Arising …. is inspired … by the story of the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament with its contradictions, delusions and self-deceptions. This installation examines the world as we see it; how we portray it to others; and how they, in turn, portray it to us. It addresses these topics through manipulation of space, form, image, light, music and sound.
Intermingling religious references appear throughout. For example, at each of the four corners calipers lift figurative souls from private purgatories bearing ex-voto offerings engraved with images of loss and alienation. The rainbow, which serves as many symbols in our society ranging from Gay Pride to a sign of the Covenant between God and Man, is presented in a tower of recycled bottles containing colored water. However, the bottles are partially drained of the water (and of the rainbow as a sign of Hope) in receding steps consistent with proportions of the Fibonacci numbering sequence: the same sequence that approaches the perfection of the Golden Mean when seen positively, but which is presented negatively as a loss of hope here.
There are eight 48” x 96” panels bracketing the installation. Four sides of these present part of the text of the story of the Tower of Babel in English and a dozen other languages. These same passages are used as audio overlays on the videos projected on four monitors around the base of the installation. Another four panels have images of the ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece. This site was used because it was there that the Oracles of Delphi proffered advice that like the languages in the story of the Tower of Babel was confusing and unclear. At each of the four corners of the installation a pair of panels opens in a wing-like fashion and reveals a glimpse into a symbolic act of raising souls from the Underworld or Purgatory…. Acrylic forms representing calipers – instruments that test precision and perfection – lift bottles representing souls from the underworld. The calipers bear etched images of autobiographical losses in manners similar to ex votos…. The “souls” are lifted through a shaft fronted with etchings of the Golden Mean and its related spiral.
At a less esoteric level, this installation questions our stewardship of the Earth through contemporary issues of sustainability and recycling. Parallelograms around the base had prints of the Murano landfill with parts of the rainbow removed to emphasize tension between God and Man.
The continuously looping videos projected contradictory sights and sounds into the space, for example, very serene videos of jelly fishes taken at the Atlanta Aquarium vs. the actual backgrounds of screeching kids and their parents. At the end of the video, calls for mercy are heard as choirs sing a Miserere composed by the author and recorded at a chapel in a Tuscany.