In preparation for our upcoming Dimensions of Citizenship : Ain't You Heard - What Happens to a Dream Deferred? program at Englewood, in collaboration with Tonika Johnson, we visited the two closed schools in Englewood that were being considered for this event: Bontemps (1241 W 58th St) and Woods (6206 S Racine Ave).
We started off our rainy morning at Woods where the two teams walked through the space to better understand how the projection and the physical installation might work in this specific place. We are organized into teams : one focusing on the digital animation to be projected at large-scale and another focusing on the analog, interactive station.
Julia and Valerie, the digital team, focused on measuring the exterior walls that may be used to project the large-scale animated videos that they are creating. They used various methods to measure what went beyond the reach of a 100 ft tape measure, like measuring a single brick or panel and adding the total number of them within a wall to get the overall size.
Pu and I, the analog team, discussed the best location for the memory station where the main entrance, the displays, the tables, and the signage would be. We agreed that placing our displays in front of the playground would help break the two large spaces into areas of activity such as the main stage versus an intermission break space.
Afterwards, we visited Bontemps located four blocks northwest from Woods. Since Bontemps is located in a less accessible area with many vacant lots surrounding it, we decided that Woods would be a much more accessible venue.
Again, Julia and Valerie measured where the facades were while Pu and I discussed the locations for our displays. After we were done, we couldn't resist playing on the blue playground set that looked brand new.
Once we were done playing, we had lunch at Friistyle and visited Alpha Bruton, an artist/curator at Phantom Gallery Network in Bronzeville Artist Lofts. The live/work space for artists was very cool because the space incorporated gallery-like spaces throughout the building; from first floor commercial gallery to mini hallway galleries in every floor. Alpha was very kind and told us about how the building came to be and operates as well as how Phantom Gallery works.
So we quickly moved back to Overton, our home, where we met up with Niall Atkinson, Professor of Art History at University of Chicago, and Tomas Van Houtryve, and worked on developing our video and display prototypes.
As someone who often gets lost working on the computer, it was great to engage the site (Woods and Bontemps) while prototyping and adapt our design to the specific needs of those two locations.
LIANNE AHN is a senior at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects.