Arts & Culture News

The Nasher's New Commission: Charity To Please Philip K. Dick

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.

See also: Vicki Meek's Nasher Xchange Project Puts Black Dallas' Past in the Present and Dallas VideoFest Will Once Again Program the Omni's Lights for a Night of Public Art

Before Charles Long's announcement, we'd seen seven other plans for public art. Last Friday Vicki Meek shared her plan to illuminate the great people, events and outreach spurred by Bishop College though historical channeling. Also from-here collective Good/Bad sets the dial for performance art during a one-night-only television show, the final product of which will air on your upper dial, so set that Tivo. Alfredo Jaar plans to build a baby scream pavilion at the Nasher. Up in Vickery Meadow, Rick Lowe is at work to unite a disjointed neighborhood through cultural cross-pollination and pop-up public markets; at the site of UT Dallas' new ATEC building, where a shared art and technology curriculum launches in 2014, Liz Larner will install a mirror-polished steel sculpture representative of the merged practices; Swedish-raised artist Ugo Rondinone has chosen to build a simple pier into Fish Trap Lake and paint it brilliantly, luring visitors out for unadulterated reflection; and Ruben Ochoa will build from the Trinity River Audubon's own soil to create a series of construction site mounds reminiscent of birds in formation.

Nasher Xchange runs from October 19, 2013 to February 16, 2014.

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Jamie Laughlin
Contact: Jamie Laughlin

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