Plein Air / Flag / The Black H2 Index


Plein Air / Flag / The Black H2 Index is a contingency to a perceived hegemony of certain spatial impositions and their psychological, economical and political effect. It is an interconnected system of ad hoc, seemingly disparate architectural, performative, investigational, media based and discursive engagements.

During the spring and summer months of 2005, I assumed the commonly accepted role of an artist: a plein air painter, and positioned myself on traffic Islands and median strips in Baltimore City. The arbitrary landscape that was drawn was one from a vantage convenient to reading the license plate numbers of passing vehicles. While only tenuously attending the drawing, I scanned passing traffic and entered on the masking tape margins the plate numbers of all noted black SUV models whose mean fuel mileage, according to previous research, fell between 9 and 16 miles per gallon (a control established by the range of an H2 hummer). An index was gradually developed.

During the Same time, I was negotiating with my studio's landlord for permission to, while simultaneously constructing a flag pole that would extend out my 4th floor studio window. This window overlooked Eutaw St. in downtown Baltimore: a path prone to heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic. While flying a large american flag during the day, the pole, unbeknownst to my landlord, would also support a projection screen by night. For reasons of liability, permission for the flag pole was never granted. Rather than establishing a fixed, mimetic, architectural apendage, it adapted by becoming a retractable entity supporting the projection only, enabling a nightly blooming of my studio space.

The project gels when each plate number recorded during it's 'plein air' phase was transcribed to its own slide, and projected over the nocturnal traffic of Eutaw St. on a nightly basis.

The discursive dimension of the project is additionally developed by its appropriation and acknowledgement of certain formal and theoretical elements of the work of Knut Asdam, an artist to whom the project is a homage. The criteria for selecting a 'black SUV' as the project's subject and the nocturnal instrumentality of highlighting its vunerability are developed in regard to Asdam's work with darkness, reflectivity, and the physical dimensions of hegemony as they are relevant to the history of minimalism, lacanian psychology, and certain modernist and surealist spatial theories.

In as much as acknowledging Asdam deals with personal obsessions, the self imposition of of the flag pole into my personal space, along with the task of activating the projection serves as a metaphor for the suborndinating nature of public minimalism, to which the SUV is analogous on not only physical, but also political and economical levels.