OCULUS by Daniel Rothbart, curated by Paul Amenta, SiTE:LAB – Rumsey Street Project for ArtPrize 2015, Grand Rapids, MI.
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SiTE:LAB is a nomadic all-volunteer arts organization that has organized over twenty temporary site-specific art projects, usually in underutilized downtown buildings in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previous projects have used locations as diverse as an abandoned natural history museum, a nature preserve, vacant commercial buildings, and most recently, a once-grand downtown hotel.
For 2015 and 2016, SiTE:LAB has been presented with a unique opportunity for its most ambitious project to date. Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has offered SiTE:LAB the use of nearly three acres in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood. The Rumsey Street property currently consists of a mixture of unoccupied structures, including a former Catholic church and rectory, a body shop, and several residences, as well as a number of vacant lots. Daniel Rothbart’s OCULUS installation was installed in the house at 349 Franklin Street.
A large circular hole was cut in the roof to create an oculus, permitting a shaft of light to pass through the house and illuminate the floor. A motorized sculpture, attached to a ceiling truss, spun continuously beneath the oculus. Centrifugal force threw the sculpture off-center as it spun and the linear elements of its construction cast web-like shadows on the walls and floor of the house. The patterning would change over the course of a day as the sun moved across the sky. Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound, a musical composition by Patrick Grant, played within the installation. This music was created using digitized vessel sounds from Daniel Rothbart sculptures.