Course

2006

 

Course is a proposal for an interactive sculptural light installation for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s downtown waterfront redevelopment. Utterback was lead artist for architects Koenig Eisenberg, working with them to design an Art Plan for the site, as well as a proposal for her own public installation.

Course is an interactive sculptural and light installation designed to create visual, temporal, and social connections between the south west entry plaza and the ‘living room’ plaza at the PCT site.

The piece is composed of light tubes or ropes arranged in a mesh or network spanning the buildings around the plazas. People’s movements through bollards scattered throughout the two plazas will create rhythms and pulses in the network of lights on the walls.

Each light pulse on the wall will distinctly map to a specific bollard gate. For example, walking by a bollard will make both the bollard, and a corresponding tube on the wall pulse red. The pulse on the wall, however, will continue along its path through the network of lights. Bollard gates oriented toward the wall will start pulses in tubes that head up the wall, while gates oriented perpendicular to the wall will start pulses heading horizontally along the wall. The tubes start out in one direction, but may twist and turn, or even jut out from the wall as they wend their way from one plaza to the other.

The multi-directional scattering of the gates throughout the site allows the piece to respond in an ambient fashion to people’s movement (i.e. the piece responds to casual or even inadvertent interaction caused by people strolling through the plazas and past the gates). Course also encourages a more directed interaction, where participants literally ‘play’ the wall like a visual instrument by coordinating their movement through or around the gates. This directed interaction is enhanced by the various social possibilities of moving with, or in response to other people.

Course visualizes a ‘rippling out’ of movement and creates a sensual rhythmic flow between the two plazas. The title refers literally to the course of the nearby river (and the one no longer present on this site), and the coursing of people’s movements through the site. On a more poetic level it encourages people to think about how their actions are always part of a large interconnected world.