Serena Lin Bush and her crew worked really hard last Wednesday and Thursday on her installation of five monitors in the basement stairwell. Each monitor connects to one of three cameras on the roof of 1002 Washington Avenue. The cameras face three views to the north and continuously record Houston sky, sending images to those monitors at the bottom of the central staircase.Crew and collaborators included Cory Lowe and Jody Cochran, both co-workers with Serena at Aniden Interactive. Cory and Jody contributed the requisite IT knowledge to make the artwork function as envisioned. Serena's father-in-law, John Bush, joined the group for installation.
The effect of sky at the bottom of a stairwell is quite wonderful. Wonderful because seeing sky in real time in the basement is unexpected. Wonderful because folks will have to ponder why the monitors were put in that specific location in the first place. Wonderful because the monitors never vary the viewpoint.
Is this art? Is this a part of the functioning of this new green building? After a first look, it's my hope that folks simply enjoy the skyscapes and see that by watching the monitors, they can follow weather changes and the time of day.
I hope that the folks who will charge up and down these stairs every day take time for a glance upward to see daylight and sky at the very top of the staircase.
Then, I hope they look all the way down to see the same sky displayed on monitors at the bottom of the staircase. Which, of course, is the point of it all. See more of Serena's work on her website.
Now, for more on the installation itself. After the monitors were set in place, Serena and her father-in-law went up on the roof to readjust the camera angles so no freeway or horizon will show in the images.
For a short time during the adjustment process, we got a portrait instead of the sky. Serena's piece opens itself up to so many more ideas.
After lunch, an unanticipated activity began to bear down on us. That would be the process of cleaning the central staircase. The staircase was already blocked off because of sections of wet concrete at the base of each floor.
Mid-afternoon, I began to hear more noise than usual and it just got closer and louder. Suddenly, we had two workmen on the stair steps right over the installation. One workman was very busy chipping away dirt from the concrete steps and the other was following with a shop vac. There is so much going on in this building right now. Move-ins begin June 17 and cleaning seems to go on continually.
However, with the workmen sweeping and blowing on the very steps under which Serena and crew were working, one had to laugh at the insanity. Neither tears or irritation would have done any good. Serena covered her monitors with the boxes in which they were packed and we hope for the best. I can see that these monitors may be vulnerable forever. Who knows when folks will accidentally drop pencils or cell phones down the stairwell? Or decide to throw coins as into a fountain. Who knows?
What I do know is that this building has one more terrific piece of civic art. Gives me goose bumps. How about you?