2345 Public art proposal for Atlantic Ocean Drive, Norway. (English summary) (Norwegian in attached pdf)
2345: Proposal for the Atlantic Ocean Road 2010
The Atlantic Ocean Road (AOR) function already as a national monument. It is a destination for tourists and a functional necessity for local and regional circulation besides providing a attractive image of Norway, abroad and at home.
The driving experience of the AOR has been carefully analysed and categorised based on geographic variety and expected perceptions of users as they move through the landscape in their vehicles.
The road may provide a sublime experience for some, thanks to the many sophisticated constructions connecting islands and land mass, all immersed in a scenic environment. On the other hand, it is as well possible to think of the advertised image of the AOR as a process of commodification of place. Based on this observation, there is a necessity to elaborate a bit on this phenomenon.
What does this mean when introducing art? To remain for a moment within this rather critical approach, the consumers of the AOR may be classified, determined by practical use and intentionality. Tourists are regarded both as a target and are the temporary users. For the tourists, the AOR function as a destination in itself.
The act of seeing a place, to be experienced. This in possible contrast to the repeated practical and everyday use by local inhabitants driving to work, performing their daily activities as for example professional truck drivers.
The third and probably largest group of users are all the virtual consumers of the representation of the AOR. This refers back to the so called image, mentioned above. The AOR is advertised as a destination, the building of the century and of course as a part of Norway.
Even if many from this virtual group actually migrate to the group of real users as tourists exploring the AOR, the majority will not. Their experience remain on the web, in travel catalogs, in documentary programs on TV.
Not to be forgotten in this context is the importance of the existence of the AOR through stories from colleagues, friends and relatives having been there and told them about their recollections.
This being said, it should now be clear that it has been important in the artistic approach to search for a way to include both tourists, local people and the virtual group (all the people not physically there) in the thinking around a possible project realization. So the various artistic considerations applied do necessarily address the issues described above.
Introducing form: An important part of the project consist of one large flat (50x50 meter) drive-on pedestal in the shape of a square. It is approximately one meter thick and perfectly flat on the top. Flat by gravity. Due to topographical features, a few natural irregularities appear as small islands reaching from the ground, above the surface, breaking this flatness.
The pedestal is located in the center of the proposed location in Vevang. The pedestal is made of concrete, tinted white by marble and chalk stone pigment from the local Visnes stone quarry. The pedestal will serve as the main physical location of the project implementation.
So why this pedestal, and why should it be accessible for vehicles?
The Norwegian Tourist Road project, is a vehicle based form of tourism. Being on the road is a necessity for the experience of the AOR. In this regard, the idea with a drive-on platform search to eliminate the distance between the road and the artwork. In other words, open up the possible perception of the road as sculpture.
In the project, the access provided to the pedestal is a natural continuation of the driving experience. When driving onto the platform, with the actual vehicle it is incorporating the driving experience. The people will find themselves on a pedestal.
Well, but what to do there? There they can park their car, relax, go for a walk around and have a look in the permanently mounted binoculars relatively close to the pedestal.
What can be seen in the those binoculars nearby the pedestal? The binoculars are of the kind often found in tourist sites, normally coin operated. In Vevang, they are free and operate without electricity. All five binoculars are focused one the same point in nature. What you see is into the very heart of Visnes stone quarry. The daily work in the quarry, with its enormous trucks in a distance of 8 kilometers can thus be observed in a close up modus.
The quarry at Visnes is in the landscape evaluation described as a scar, a destroyed nature and disturbing visual element, contrasting with the harmony of the area. As man made accelerated entrophy. The quarry administration confirmed that their activity will last for another 50 years as a minimum, working their way from the top and still downwards.
Another central issue in this approach has been to challenge the common notion of nature itself, thus to question and explore the existing polarization between high value and poor or moderate driving experience.
These questions are of course relating to how we culturally perceive our surroundings, the natural and the built environment. Thes categories, some may argue, are not neutral, but culturally determined romantic premises for an awe- inspiring experience. To be consumed.
This will not be further discussed. The point has been made, mentioned only to keep in mind the embedded framework in which the overall concept of the tourist roads project take place.
It must be remembered that the AOR is for the primary group of tourists determined by the season April to October. From October to April, there is a break from the wave of summer guests. Adopting a certain ownership to the pedestal is a local possibility. A place to drive and hang out on other premises.
We have so far described the project based on the physical location In Vevang. This is only half of the project. Introducing content:
What is the point of such a pedestal, in the middle of nowhere? For what does it serve, in addition to appear as a special kind of parking? A place where the road dissolves into a pedestal, where the driving experience comes to a temporary stop, a dead end?
The physical appearance of the AOR directly reflects geological time. The whole value of the AOR is based on interventions in the very shapes where natural elements still process the forms we perceive today. Over millions of years. Considering time.
Visitors experience this hint of geological time in the landscape, as if contrasted to their own limited life span. Immersed in nature and time.
For this reason, a substantial part of the budget has been designated to work with time. More clearly, it has been decided that the pedestal will be a pedestal for the future. More precisely for the year of 2345. Of course, this is only a simple number. 335 years from now. Another point in time, in the calendar. Perceived as lived time, that means about 10 generations.10 generations of veålendinger, æssær, stor-æssær and pekailler.
The basic idea is to accept that the materialization of the presumably absent artwork on the pedestal will be installed in the year of 2345. At the same time, this delay will in real time function as an embedded artwork, mainly in the living community in the region.This mean in practical terms that the information of this delay over time are being communicated from our generation to the next, and then next, until the year of 2345.
What does this mean? How is that possible? Why? The municipal library, the major and the association of local historians in Eide has agreed to take on this responsibility on a voluntarily basis. The responsibility to bring the message about the future implementation and finalization of the project on the pedestal in 2345 in Vevang. In other words, to make it a temporary tradition. The municipality of Eide is the formal owner of the pedestal at Vevang.
A simple contract document has been signed and drafted, and it is there described that an amount from the budget has been reserved and invested into gold and is being kept in a safest location in Eide by the local authorities.
This amount will be used to finalize the project in 2345 on the pedestal at Vevang. How they will decide on procedures and experience art, in other words, how it will look like in the end, we will never know.
According to the contract, nobody can in any legal manner remove or change the designated use of these resources until the year of 2345. Sometimes, the municipality choose to display to the public the gold. This happen approximately every 10 years, but this is no formal obligation. This as proof of existence of the project.
A duplicate of the contract with Eide municipality exist in an unknown location to make sure that the municipality of Eide (or its future equivalent) will keep their part of the agreement in 2345. To use the investment in gold for the designated project.
Connected to this, a collection of 100 books has been selected and donated to the municipal library in Eide. The books are all related to the topic of this very project. About monuments, meaning of place, tourism, extraction of natural resources, sites, place and interpretations of landscape.
The library in Eide has a swell received a modest amount of money on a special account. From this money the library may buy 2 - 5 new books every year from the income expected from the interest rate. The simple rule is to keep the book collection open to the schools public until 2345. This is already incorporated into the normal function of the library.
This special book section has thus become a popular and permanent part of the library collection. The most respected local carpenter designed a book-shelf system which are gradually being enlarged as this book collection are growing over the years.
If the public library in the future will change location or close down on a permanent basis, the book collection remain under the ownership of the municipality of Eide. This process are being voluntarily monitored and observed by the association of local historians in Eide.
So in this manner, the project is established as a situation. This situation will after some time take the shape, not unlike the form of a local myth. A story to be told and written about, confirm and interpreted. At home and abroad.
The association of local historians, in addition to every new parent generation, have a special story to tell. They will write local history about local future. This situation will last for 335 years.
Naturally, the meaning of all this takes several directions. One is the consolidation of a local relationship over time to something imposed from the outside; the pedestal. The artwork will remain immaterial for the next centuries, but the core of the project is already taking place in language (how this story is being told) on the background of time and local history.
Can a story being told get old with dignity? Can this way of thinking about art today be communicated though the metaphorical use of a pedestal, a library and pointing out a contradiction in perception of nature? (binoculars) Only those considering these issues, will get close to the complexity of this project.
The tourists are for the most part passing by to quickly to find time to visit the book installation in the library in Eide, but many do. Some are as well finding occasions to hear the story from speaking with the locals. They will discover the pedestal as a welcome deviation, away from the road and a peaceful place to stop.
The tourists might enjoy the formal and practical aspects of the pedestal, and if they will know the whole story, in which the pedestal plays a part, be reminded of their own dislocated directions in geological time.
Then what? What is written in the document to be opened in 2345? Where is it now? Where is the gold? How do they decide What is art in 2345? Who will make it? Will gold have any value? Will Eide still have a library? Will Norway still be as we know it? Will tourism exist? Will the pedestal still remain? Or the bridges, will they be continuously rehabilitated until 2345? Will cars be important? Will people live in this area at all?
These kind of questions are being generated in curious children and adults alike. What is then actually a public artwork, a monument or an empty pedestal? What is this story all about?
What do we select and bring into the future? What is history after all and is there any analog between the way events of history is handed over to us and how we travel and consume pre-selected sites for our holidays?
This proposition for a public artwork, focus less on the visibility of form and try to introduce a more embedded and contemplative thinking of art, tourism, place and time. Engaging the three main user groups of this area, the project seeks to extend as a bridge into the future.
2345: Proposal for the Atlantic Ocean Road 2010
So why this pedestal, and why should it be accessible for vehicles?