Grand Intervention: Private Goes Public

Grand Avenue Intervention:
Submission Gallery

Private Goes Public 

Submitted by Gregory Taousson and Paola Giaconia

The square is conceived as a sort of neutral and open space, something like a contemporary urban Stonehenge, Karnak or Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

Elements punctuate the space as totems would do.

The resulting public space is ritual in a sense. But its rituality is interpreted in a contemporary way, by combining the real and the virtual, and gives rise to a new interactive urban choreography. It’s not going to be a sacred place intended in a traditional sense, in all its immortality; rather it’s going to transmit fleeting and transient sensations to people going through it, turning them from passive observers into active participants.

The final aim is a democratization of people’s appropriation of the public realm.

In opposition to the society of the spectacle typified by Hollywood Boulevard, home of the stars, this will be a place for "anonymous" celebrities.

Common passers-by will get their second of celebrity as they walk across the plaza platform.

One of the cameras located above the elevated walkways stops its gaze on one of the passers-by — who by chance walks past the totem — and follows him for a few minutes. As soon as the person steps onto a spot close to the box (totem), in fact, an optical signal is sent to a camera that will catch a glimpse from his eyes, an expression from his face, a movement from his body and restitute it during the night, in the form of a projection onto the pavement of the plaza.

In response to the growing importance of "the virtual" as opposed to "the real," the totems in the plaza will express this dichotomy by putting people in front of both facts: physical materials–that are permanent by nature–and projected (real and fictional) images that are transient by definition.

Colored glass and projectors alternately display fictional or real imagery onto the pavement of the square. During the day they are real projections of natural light filtered by colored glass panels (as do stained-glass windows of an old Gothic church); as the sun begins to set, projectors take over and cast pre-recorded videos onto the pavement.

The walkways as well as people’s images projected onto the pavement of the square make common people the true protagonists inside the square.

A sort of democratic visibility is thus offered to everyone. Passers-by become the object of the cam gaze.

There are social as well as psychological implications in this operation, of course: knowing they’re being continuously observed by a video camera, people "lose" their right to be different in private (i.e. to have distinctly seperate public and private identities and behaviors). Their normal, conventional behaviors are modified, either to perform for or to conceal from the eye of the camera; the private sphere is penetrated even though we are moving in the public domain. A performance role is hence imposed upon people by the presence of the camera.

The balance between private and public behavior seems to go strangely awry.

The plaza is both:
A site of imagination: the totems made of colored glass panels catch sunlight during the day as prisms and cast colored spots of light onto the pavement of the square. Those spots will continuously change appearance as the sun pursues its trajectory. During the night the same totems project images of landscapes (VIRTUAL) [images projected could be of the immediate context being monitored as well as photos (technologically produced) representing the memory of the place and the changing topography of its built environment] and images taken of people walking in the square during the day.
A site of reality: the totems contain boxes with REAL sounds/material (rocks, water, strains of grass).  As people approach them they hear sounds from natural landscapes and, made curious by what they hear, they will get closer to the boxes, look and reach into them to feel real materials like stones, water and grass.