Charles Long's futuristic XChange sculpture could be science fiction source material.
Housed in NorthPark Mall, an area that's already established itself as an art and commerce amalgamate, Long fuses new media with ritual, then tosses in an element of monetary exchange. The end result will be a large, chalice-shaped wishing well.
Rather than than recycling water, projections of dollar bills will gurgle up from within then cascade down, pouring fluidly along its sides. (Early rendering to the right.)
"Fountainhead" also acts as a funds generator of the new millennium where viewers can make donations for Dallas CASA, the North Texas Food Bank and Bookmarks (a branch of the Dallas library) in exchange for flipping a "virtual coin" into the fountain. When the projection lands into the "water" pool, it disturbs the digital dollar bills, creating a splash. That arc of activity causes both a primary and secondary viewing experience, where the donor sets in motion a point of interactivity between the art and those gathered around him.
"It's a bit of harmless fun," says Long. "Yet it echoes ancient public sacrificial ceremonies and it seems pertinent to be doing this kind of sacrifice today in this very popular shopping center where visitors have been seeing public art for decades."
It's such an interesting idea. We bristle when art, especially public art, is currency dependent. But here in Long's piece any incendiary elements are immediately purified through its charitable goal and familiar actions. Also, the exchange itself occurs at a kiosk, located a slight distance away from the fountain. So while you physically give real money to the kiosk, it's only through a digital remove -- a wish coin currency -- that you actually engage with the art.
There's a thoughtful beauty in that. This chunk of new media seems like a well-designed fit for NorthPark -- in this, or any future century.
Nasher Xchange runs from October 19, 2013 to February 16, 2014.