Program Description


Unrealized Potential

The sculpture contains an infra-red motion detector and a working computer whose screen and keyboard are visible on the front of the sculpture. If no visitors are present, the screen is blank. When a visitor is detected, a light illuminating the keyboard winks on and the computer displays over two thousand photos, documents, screens, texts, maps, charts and graphics.

The program is a random walk through information related to the law, moving through connected content from screen to screen but sometimes following suprising turns. For instance, It may be displaying official portraits of U. S. Presidents from George Washington to George Bush, sometimes substituting images of Presidents on currency. After the image of Richard M. Nixon, the computer may continue the succession of presidents or it may take twenty minutes to display forty screens of White House tape transcripts and then follow a line of data about eavesdropping.. Or it may leave the presidential sequence by jumping from a Matthew Brady photo of Abraham Lincoln to another early photo taken about the same time of Harriet Tubman, a scarf around her head staring warily at the camera, followed by a sequence of biographies and faces of African-Americans involved in civil rights including Nat Turner, W. B. Dubois, Malcolm X and segueing through Thurgood Marshal to an encyclopedia description of the Supreme Court. It may continue this with a biography of Justice O'Connor and then appear to use a modem to access the Internet, log on to LEXIS legal services and look up a speech on women lawyers. Other times it may display video images of parts of the sculpture itself, the sword leaning against the chair, for example, may appear on the monitor after a portrait of Charlemagne. Or the open and closed lips may precede an image of Martin Luther.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the legal content as when the computer is contrasting the migration of the first Americans from the Asian landmass via the Bering strait with the arrival of the conquistadors in Mexico and the settlers in New England. But as the data continues and begins to focus on Geronimo and Red Cloud, Wounded Knee and the American Indian Movement, it becomes clear that the issue is how a legal system continues to grapple with ancient inequities.

Pallas home page
Intellectual tools
Ylem's Art on the Edge