Lines Left Out

University Library Art Gallery at
Sonoma State University,
Rohnert Park, CA
Installation of mixed media box constructions & sculpture: silk-screened & dyed organza silk, found objects, paper prints, 4 x 4 blocks, concrete, book board & cloth, bamboo, newspaper, clothing labels, book covers, salvaged structure

Early in July of '07, I was invited to create an installation in response to Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, as part of the NEA Big Read project.  In order to decide whether I wanted to participate, I reread the book.  I was surprised to find ideas in a book written in 1953 that resonated with my own interests and concerns today. Themes such as:

  • How the fast pace of life affects what we see and don’t see, remember and forget
  • How the speed of technology alters one’s perception of time, space and light
  • How we are screens as we filter reality through our beliefs, focuses, desires & health
  • How our beliefs can condition us to not use our senses

And specific words and images as I read:

“Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriums. Forget them. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.”
 “We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run…Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors…and take a long look in them.”
Two hundred-foot-long billboards to stretch the advertising out so it would last.
“I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly…green blur…that’s grass! A pink blur! That’s a rose garden! White blurs are houses. Brown blurs are cows…”
“Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack!  Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom!  Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline!   Then, in midair, all vanishes.”
 “I hate a Roman named Status Quo!...Stuff your eyes with wonder…live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds.  See the world.” “Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine.”

Serendipity & Confluence:
A spark had been lit. I had the materials for the project—organza silk, American target silhouettes, photographic imagery that resonated with the book, a salvaged structure, book parts, and 4x4 blocks with 2½ months to complete an installation.  My challenge was to put them together in a form that speaks to the feeling and space of Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury's
themes of 1953 are still relevant today. Magritte and the silhouette, surrealism, photography, walls, mirrors, memory and memorials came to mind.

I burned to keep a focus.